The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Away We Go

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

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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4 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Away We Go”

  1. […] truths. “Juno” chronicled a teen girl’s struggle with a very adult decision. “Away We Go” followed a couple wondering where — and how — to raise their first child. “(500) Days of […]

  2. Nick Rogers says:

    amazed: Thanks! And I’m with you on awards consideration. Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay should be shoo-ins, but just watch: "Avatar" (although on my best list) will get a nod for its screenplay, which is, by far, the least impressive aspect of that film. Abby and I have seen it twice now, and we’re sure to watch it many more times in the years to come.

    joel: That *is* a great scene – an unexpectedly morbid blast of comedy that still works given the subject matter.

  3. joel says:

    just saw this recently, alex had gotten it thru netflix on the vague recommendation "so and so said it was good, i think.". and man, where we more than pleasantly suprised. while the arizona family was a bit grotesque and over wrought, the rest of the film was funny, clever, and not afraid to "get cha!". we still laugh about the scene where the main characters are waiting for her sister and the mother with the pudgy son comes along "tell the nice people what you know about babies…" ooooohh, funny! i will recommend this movie to people for years.

  4. Excellent review, Nick. I’m sick that this movie didn’t get more year-end recognition, and Maya’s performance was completely ignored at the awards shows.

    I saw it three times in the theatre, the second time with my parents right after my 29th birthday. My dad in particular was very affected by the journey of the young soon-to-be parents (though he’d never admit it), particularly the scene on the trampoline.