"Away We Go" is a cute, likeable movie.
For about 10 minutes.
It develops, alas, into an irksome work of staggering insularity, penned by Dave Eggers, who wrote the novel "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," and co-wrote "Away We go" with his novelist wife.
Their first child was born recently, an event that no doubt inspired "Away We Go," the story of a young couple expecting their first and looking for a place to nest.
The movie features John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as Burt and Verona, a pair of successful freelancers (he's a derivatives genius, she's an illustrator). Krasinski and Rudolph, plucked from the world of TV comedy, are comfortable and funny together.
Strip away the veneer of the cute and clever, though, and you begin to see what a little fraud the movie is. You notice, for instance, that Burt and Verona are not really interested in the nature of the places they visit. There's no serious discussion of schools, day care, regional culture or even real-estate prices. That would be square, I guess.
They seem to be looking for the right sort of people to hang out with - people just as ironic, entitled and privileged as they are.
They don't have much luck. The chilly Northeast has eccentric and monstrously self-centered boomers (Jeff Daniels, Catherine O'Hara), the Southwest is full of gentrified rednecks (Allison Janney), a university town has new age kooks (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Montreal is home to the tragically hip.
These glib vignettes are nothing if not colorful, directed by Sam Mendes with his usual style of capturing actors when they're fully "on," so that every second of every scene is filled by a performer laying it on as thick as possible.
Actors love Mendes, because his leash is long. But Mendes has never done a good job of modulating his movies, and all that acting leaves the audience fatigued.
Krasinksi and Rudolph do their best to provide a laid-back center, and manage to make their characters only moderately smug.
They reminded me a bit of the post-racial, 21st-century elitist couple in "Lakeview Terrace," only without Samuel L. Jackson around to remind them of how much they take for granted.
In they end, they find a place where they fit right in.