Director Sam Mendes is a stickler for good film writing. After all, the last (and only) film he directed from an original screenplay was the Academy Award-winning “American Beauty.” Since then, he has directed critically-acclaimed films such as “Road to Perdition,” “Jarhead,” and “Revolutionary Road.” But it has been nearly ten years since he has taken an original screenplay to the big screen. Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida’s “Away We Go” was enough to inspire Mendes, which holds a considerable amount of clout from that point alone.
“I was feeling the need to do something writer-led. Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida’s script was delightful, and had a lightness of spirit even when dealing with serious issues. Most of all it made me laugh,” Mendes said. Although “Away We Go” lacks extravagant set designs and marquee-names, the story possesses an incredibly poignant and humanistic element. And while summer flicks will be drowning in Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen humor, “Away We Go” will separate itself with a nice serving of highbrow comedy.
Producer Edward Saxton, best known for his Oscar in 1992 for “Silence of Lambs” stated, “When writers of Dave and Vendela’s talent send you their original screenplay, it’s an incredible gift. I was pulled in by its humor, its relevance, and its incredibly vivid characters.” With an Oscar-winning director and producer on board, it’s not a huge shocker that “Away We Go” is quite the underdog gem of the summer.
The film is about a thirty-something couple, Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) who embark on a nationwide quest to find a home of their own. Six months into pregnancy, the couple is thrown for a loop when Burt’s parents, brilliantly played by Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels, decide they no longer want to be around for the birth of their grandchild—with no qualms about it.
Distraught and confused, Burt and Verona decide to visit old friends and relatives around the country in hopes of finding the perfect place to start their new life. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Melanie Lynskey and Paul Schneider are just a few of the impressive and talented actors of “Away We Go.” The characters and dialogue Eggers and Vida have created are not only hysterical, but incredibly refreshing in an unconventional and cynical way.
Once the summer movie season is over, Eggers will venture back into the spotlight with a much-anticipated film: “Where the Wild Things Are.” If his script is anything life “Away We Go,” we’re all in for a brutal four months of waiting.
Photo: Maya Rudolph ad John Krasinski at the New York City premiere, June 1, 2009 (AP Photo/Dave Allocca, StarPix)