Everyone should know by now I love stories. Once in a while a movie comes a long that captures humanity and their story in such a way that is fantastic and so normal at the same time that I fall in love with it. I recently re-watched the movie “Away We Go” starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. It was an inexpensive addition to my collection so I bought it after I saw it the first time through Netflix.
The movie opens up with Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) finding out they are going to have a child. They are in their early 30’s and unmarried, seemingly in a rut. Their lack of ties where they are pushes them out their front door to find the perfect place to raise their family. This takes them all over the United States and even into Canada. As their trip progresses they find more and more what they don’t want in a family as they make each stop, visiting friends and family along the way. In their journey they find everything across the spectrum from the fun family that does its best to hide its alienation to the continuum, new age family that doesn’t believe in strollers. Through it all Burt and Verona keep evaluating what it is they want in their family, what they’ll have to deal with and the conclusion they reach is beautiful and simple.
They can only take care of their family, their daughter and they will have to take whatever else, be it abandonment, death, or seahorses, as it comes. It’s very hard to make a movie in which you see the characters grow and mature in just the right way but I think this movie does a really great job. With each new location tested comes a new family they observe in which they get to see what good (if any) comes out of it as well as the really dark and sad parts. The relationship between Burt and Verona is one of best friends, it seems. Even if it’s not exactly a “God-honoring” relationship (as Verona refuses to get married) their experiences before finally landing back in Miami where they grew up ends up marrying them, in a sense, by exchanging promises on Burt’s brother’s backyard trampoline. The scene itself puts a smile on my face and sparks something in that inner romantic that is buried deep, deep down inside me.
I think we all desire something like that in our lives if we don’t have it already. Family is such strange concept to some people because they either never really knew it or lost it early on. This movie manages to put the heart, soul and a little awkwardness that is necessary in telling the story of a family. God has fashioned us in a way to relate and love others and it just strikes me deep in the heart when it’s portrayed with all its range of emotion and beauty. I must be honest, though, that it also makes me a bit sad. Not that I don’t have a family or didn’t experience the weirdness of it all (my family is strange in ways I’d rather not explain). But the movie explores something deeper than that. I think it’s that there are very few certainties in having a family because, invariably, there are an incalculable number of variables that can alter things forever.
Personally, it makes me wonder. I turn 26 in two days which is on the downward slope to 30 and I wonder what it’s going to be like for me to be in that situation one day. It thrills me for so many reasons and scares me to death for so many others. Most of all, I have to convince myself daily that I haven’t somehow damned myself to solitude forever. My psychologist calls that, “worst-case scenario thinking” and he’s right. I must try and convince myself every day the irrationality of those kinds of thoughts. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. I watch movies like this and, though it’s fiction, I know there’s always a spot of true story in there. I dunno, anything that puts a smile on my face has to be worth something these days.
On a scale of none to five bears, I give this movie 4.9 bears. I will add it to my list of movies I would highly recommend you like if you want to be my friend.
My favorite lines from the film take place on a trampoline. The entire movie it is pointed out over and over again that Verona doesn’t want to get married but, near the end, they manage to have a marriage ceremony of sorts just the two of them. I think it portrays the tone of the film really well. Go check it out.
Burt Farlander: Do you promise to let our daughter be fat or skinny or any weight at all? Because we want her to be happy, no matter what. Being obsessed with weight is just too cliché for our daughter.
Verona De Tessant: Yes, I do. Do you promise, when she talks, you’ll listen? Like, really listen, especially when she’s scared? And that her fights will be your fights?
Burt Farlander: I do. And do you promise that if I die some embarrassing and boring death that you’re gonna tell our daughter that her father was killed by Russian soldiers in this intense hand-to-hand combat in an attempt to save the lives of 850 Chechnyan orphans?
Verona D Tessant: I do. Chechnyan orphans. I do. I do.