Away We Go: Rocky Road Romance

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pulls into the rest stop with 4 Red Vines

My movie reviewing partner in crime was surprised to see that Sam Mendes had directed "Away We Go" when the credits rolled. I said, "I know! When I heard it was a comedy, I thought, this I gotta see. A Sam Mendes comedy?!" Her response was, "American Beauty was funny." I said, "Well, there might have been some laughs but I don't think any movie that end with someone's brains blown out is a comedy."

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No "American Beauty" wasn't a comedy. It was an American tragedy wrapped in irony that might have produced a couple of chuckles. Mendes' next big name movie was last year's " Revolutionary Road". Yet another American tragedy with a mind blowing ending. No pun intended. Both showcased Mendes' knack of capturing realistic slices of everyday Americans dealing with everyday drama. But make no mistake, while Mendes continues to cement his reputation for excellently staging the dynamics of the human condition, this time around laughs flow freer than your tears at his previous movies.

"Away We Go", simply put, is a romantic road trip movie. Kudos must be given from the very start for the inspired casting of Maya Rudolph (SNL) and John Krasinski (The Office) as perhaps the most unlikely romantic pairing in recent cinematic history. To be blunt to the point of being offensive, they simply are not pretty people for starters. Leads in romantic comedies usually tend to be pretty people first and foremost. Here we get quirky character actors who look more like our neighbors than movie stars. And to be honest, the way they are presented in the movie, neither one appears to have hygiene anywhere nears the top of their list of priorities. I swear I could smell them from the 15 th row!

But oh what a cast! Rudolph and Krasinski are utterly delightful as a couple who take to the road to find the ideal place to settle down and raise their coming family. They travel around the country and into Canada to visit family and friends to check out all the possibilities. Of course each person/family they visit has their own particular pathos, so Mendes doesn't have to present you the sweet without the sour. But this time, the more sour the more laughs.

The movie belongs to Rudolph, Krasinski and Mendes in that order but the super supporting cast brings dynamic new energy to fuel each stop on this road adventure. Allison Janney (American Beauty) reteams with Mendes as an alcoholic cougar married to harried hubby Jim Gaffigan. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a riot as an earth mother with a twist. While screen time is just too short for the likes of Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels as Krasinski's free spirited parents.

This is a true adult comedy, capitalizing on every laugh that can be mined from mature situations. Sure there is plenty of Sam Mendes irony and drama but what little vinegar there is cannot cut the sweet of this very sweet and oh so satisfying comedy. Sam Mendes and comedy? Who would have ever thunk?!

LADIES ROOM LOWDOWN: There was plenty of audience buzz leaving this movie. I overheard one man say to his friends, "Boy, makes you think twice about who you marry!" Hey want yet another reason to see this movie? The couple's first road trip stop is none other than Phoenix! Then next stop? Tucson! But it's a real shame they don't stop to see The Thing!!

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