World Hum Travel Movie Club: ‘Away We Go’

Speaker's Corner: Eva Holland and Eli Ellison debate the summer's hippest road trip flick

Via fanpop

To: Eli
From: Eva
Subject: Pilgrimage to Montreal

You make a good point about Burt and Verona sliding through the story with immunity, Eli. I was trying to put my finger on something that bothered me even as I enjoyed the pair—it felt like there was a sort of disconnect between the two of them and the people/places that surround them—and I think you’ve nailed it. Sure, they seem anxious about parenthood as they watch the future generation being methodically destroyed around them, but they seemed anxious about parenthood to begin with. I didn’t get a sense of transition, any the-enormity-of-parenthood-dawns-on-them moments, from their encounters with the Allison Janneys and Maggie Gyllenhaals.

Smugness? As you say, not nearly as much as you’d expect from the trailers. And I think Burt and Verona themselves (or, at least, Burt) are almost too innocent to be truly smug—but that doesn’t mean the folks watching at home aren’t supposed to be laughing at the cartoon characters our duo meets along the way. And yeah, maybe there is something a little indie-obnoxious about that.

Hey, speaking of indie-obnoxious, you mentioned Montreal. Can I admit that when Verona noted that Montreal was on the itinerary, I laughed out loud? Because of course it was. Montreal is the hipster Holy Land. Where else can young Americans BYOB at European-style cafes, pay absurdly low rent (relatively speaking), practice a foreign language and wallow in the latest indie rock all day long? Well, Eastern Europe, probably. But Europe doesn’t have an Amtrak station. That being said, I thought the scenes there caught the energy and after-hours life of the city really well. And naturally my fellow theater-goers and I cheered when Verona dropped a poutine shout-out.

So, you caught me: I claim to like this movie, but I’ve spent most of my time here talking about what didn’t work for me. The truth is, beyond a general appreciation for the script and the acting, and in particular the two leads (and hey, that’s a great start right there, isn’t it?) I’ve had a hard time sorting out just exactly how I feel about it. And I’ve spent the last couple days thinking back to the flick and trying to figure it out. That must mean they’ve done something right ... right?

To: Eva
From: Eli
Subject: Scrambled Eggers and a side of gravy fries

“Smug” is the wrong word (quick, someone enroll me at Eggers’ 826LA tutoring center ). And I wasn’t talking about the Burt and Verona characters themselves. I guess what I’m trying to say is the overall tone has a whiff of self-righteousness, or as you put it, “indie-obnoxiousness.”

As for big “ah-ha” parenthood moments, no, there aren’t any. But in the final act there are subtle mini-epiphanies, some unspoken. Watch Burt and Verona during the cringe-inducing pancake syrup speech. Better yet, give the ridiculous Montreal nightclub dance another whirl.

As I said, the movie’s main problem is dullness. Away We Go ... To Sleep is more like it. Yet, despite instances of gag-me dialogue (“Nobody’s in love like us, right?” asks Verona), I did find some of the script thoughtful and witty. But the laughs were in short supply, and the pacing could’ve been breezier.

Poutine?! Always knew you elitist Canadians were no better than us savages south of the border. Speaking as one, I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know Montreal was the hipster capital of Canada, though should have. This is the city that spawned Arcade Fire. Can you imagine if the band had done the soundtrack? “Away We Go” would be the heir apparent to Garden State, surely causing indie-hipsters everywhere to spontaneously combust.

Your mixed feelings mean they’ve done something right? Well, they’ve done some things right. Eggers and Vida should give movies another shot and inject their next screenplay with this “Staggering Genius” I’ve heard so much about. And maybe if they tap someone other than Sam Mendes to direct, “Away We Go 2: Hipster Boogaloo” will be a winner.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

Eli Ellison

5 Comments for World Hum Travel Movie Club: ‘Away We Go’

Julia Ross 06.12.09 | 11:36 AM ET

great back and forth, eva and eli. I find Krasinski totally endearing, so I think I’ll give it a shot.

Eva Holland 06.12.09 | 2:33 PM ET

It’s definitely worth checking out, Julia! Let us know what you think. (And I heart JK, too.)

Laura 06.12.09 | 3:35 PM ET

I always enjoy your reviews Eli and Eva, but you may have talked me out of seeing this one at the movies. I too like Krasinski and I loved Maya Rudolph in Idiocracy so I was looking forward to this one.  I may wait for the DVD after all.

TambourineMan 06.26.09 | 5:26 PM ET

Julia and Laura, I’ve been following Away We Go’s box office take. Despite heavy advertising here in LA and on Comedy Central (Daily Show & Colbert Report), I’m guessing it’ll hit DVD within two months. If you can wait, it’s worth a rental.

Peter 07.12.09 | 1:46 AM ET

I am definitely going to wait as this is movie worth waiting for.

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