Away We Go a.k.a. “Farlanders,” “This Must Be the Place”
Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
Romance, Comedy, Drama
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
June 5, 2009 (limited—4 theaters)
June 12, 2009 (wider, but limited)
June 26, 2009 (wider)
DVD: September 29, 2009
Searching for the perfect place to raise a family
“Away We Go” may be one of the cutest titles for a romantic comedy about a couple trying to find a new home as they await the arrival of their first child. Unfortunately, other 3 word titles such as “Why get married?” or “What’s the point” may have been more appropriate and less misleading in describing what Sam Mendes’s latest film is really all about.
Burt Farlander (John Krasinski) and his live in girlfriend, Verona (Maya Rudolph) are 34 year old college drop outs who, although deeply in love, are approaching middle age without any real plan or idea of where they’re going in life. When news of a baby comes, and Burt’s parents (Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels) announce they’re moving away to Belgium, Burt and Verona find no reason to stay where they are and take their grand adventure to find where they’ll build the perfect family.
Sounds sweet huh? I thought so, too. But there’s a few things that make Away We Go’s version of “sweet” leave an awkward aftertaste in the back of your mouth.
The surface plot is far less important than the two main subplots, both of which are very simple to follow. The first is Rudolph’s inability to cope with her parents’ death, which happened approximately 15 years ago. She talks around the subject, even when she’s with her sister, and the movie encompasses her coming to terms with herself over what happened.
The second subplot plays throughout as more of a question: What is a family? Or what makes up a family? At first I asked myself “Why did this have to be another film about a couple getting pregnant without being married?” I quickly figured out that the whole film is subtly about why the very thing I questioned is simply OK. The trips that Krasinski and Rudolph take on the exterior look like casual trips to see friends and try to find a home in various cities: Phoenix, Madison, and Montreal.
But the trips end up playing like a nightmare version of Walt Disney’s “Carousel of Progress” featuring Tomorrow Land’s worst families. A hippie unmarried couple that believes in exposing their kids to their sexuality with each other but not strollers, a married couple that drinks, gambles and swears and believes the only reason to get married is to guarantee you won’t run away, and a trip to see John Krasinski’s brother who is now raising his daughter on his own and trying to figure out how to tell her that her mom left in the middle of the night and isn’t coming back. Although this happens in the real world, it doesn’t really give a fair look at families in America, but then again, that’s the point isn’t it… The underlying message, which is actually stated in the film using syrup on pancakes to illustrate, is “Love (or syrup) is all you need to hold you’re family together.”
Unfortunately, the debasing of the family is one of the main reasons our country is in moral decline.
Aside from the troubling message of the film, the language is far rougher than it needed to be. This isn’t a film where gangs, mobsters, crime lords or any sect of the bottom feeders of the world are shown. This is a romantic comedy, right? Why the coarse language? Why the 15 F-words? Why the parents shown in the film having a bad case of gutter mouth? Is this really what American families are like? I didn’t see the point in it.
The sexual aspect of the film is rough, too. Constant jokes about male and female parts, lesbians and gays, and the most awkward opening scene to a movie I have EVER (I’m not kidding) seen in which John Krasinski figures out Maya Rudolph is pregnant by performing oral sex on her.
In all, “Away We Go” only teases us with glimpses of humor and sweetness. Krasinski’s comedic brightness keeps the story moving along well enough, but the rest of the film just plays out like a sad trip down “how did we as Americans end up where we are?” lane. A road that reminds us more marriages are ending in divorce, more children are being raised without their biological parents, and more families are being broken apart. But it’s Okay, as long as we’ve got love (or syrup) to hold us together right?
Violence: None / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.