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Heroes of the Zeroes: Away We Go

by on January 25, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Away We Go”
Rated R
2009

Optimism need not always sound rosy, and it didn’t in the final words of Sam Mendes’s “Away We Go” — a 2009 film aware of imperfections in friendship, love, family, parenthood and home.

Unwed couple Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are expecting a child and auditioning locations in which to settle near family or friends. (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara turn up for a slyly self-centered scene as Burt’s nearby parents aching to skip town.)

Get past the grotesque caricatures in Phoenix, with Allison Janney and Jim Gaffigan behaving like bad “Saturday Night Live” characters. Beyond that, Dave Eggers and wife Vendela Vida’s screenplay offers a more eloquent elucidation on the pitfalls of parental preparedness than Eggers’ “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”

This extends to bit players, most notably to Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey as a vigorously adoptive couple pursuing biological children. Most often, it’s through Rudolph’s endearingly earthen portrayal of Verona, worrying about the uniqueness of her love for Burt and anxiety about their child.

Whether it’s a moving meditation on the beauty of birth to resurrect aspects of those who have passed or priceless reactions to a petty hippie-dippy couple (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Josh Hamilton), this is Rudolph’s finest performance.

“Away We Go” shared the similarly episodic flutter of familial comedy with “Flirting with Disaster,” but evolved to something more than a grand screwball finish. Ultimately, home represents only all that we can control of the sadness that surrounds us.  

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