UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Courtesy of Big Beach Films

Away We Go

Road movie is a cross-country tour of 21st-century family dysfunction

By David Wilson

Away We Go
Directed by Sam Mendes, starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski
(Big Beach Films)

Verona and Burt are unmarried thirtysomethings living a twentysomething idyll. She’s a freelance medical illustrator. He sells insurance futures over the telephone, affecting a ridiculous take-charge voice that barely disguises his disdain for the clients on the other end of the line. They live in a cold, ramshackle dwelling in the middle of nowhere and drive a beat-up Volvo station wagon.

They float along in disengaged bliss until reality smacks them in the face — she discovers she’s pregnant. Two realizations follow: they want to raise the child together, and there is no way they can do it living the way they do. So they hit the road on a quest to find their inner adult and a place to put down roots.

The journey becomes a cross-country tour of 21st-century family dysfunction. Pit stops include Burt’s clueless, self-absorbed boomer parents in Colorado; a martini-swilling, trash-talking former colleague of Verona’s in Arizona; Burt’s doctrinaire new-age sister and her obnoxious hippie husband in Wisconsin; and a couple of old chums raising a small army of adopted kids in Montreal.

Each leg of the journey is like a short film-within-a-film. British-born director Sam Mendes and co-writers Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida rely on audience empathy to hold the narrative together. Verona and Burt are truly likeable; we mourn the inevitable loss of innocence waiting at their journey’s end — raising a child is a hard, serious business, no matter who you are or where you do it — but want to believe they can hang on to some of their quirkiness and even pass it on to their progeny. And we rejoice in their obvious affection for each other. Love will give them strength for the challenges ahead.

The film is sweet but it isn’t syrupy. A couple of scenes will leave you squirming on the sofa. Others will have you dabbing your eyes. But mostly the film will leave you feeling hopeful. Verona and Burt’s quest for parenting role models leads to the inescapable conclusion that raising a family today is a test of individual character. And one suspects that this charming, non-conformist couple will do just fine at it.

Author's photo
David Wilson is the editor-publisher of The Observer.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image