Indie rock's childhood obsessions are seeping into indie films. The Juno-style crayon-drawing title on the Away We Go poster signals director Sam Mendes' effort to break from his imperfect but cinematic oeuvre (American Beauty, Jarhead, Road to Perdition) for a quirky folk rock-scored comedy, written by real-life couple Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida. It's a better fit than might be expected, but only when Mendes keeps things funny.
Expecting couple Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) wonder if they're failures. They're in their 30s, and still without a clear sense that they've gotten things together. That's a poignant, timely angle for a modern relationship story. With their sardonic look (Burt is a dead ringer for hipster essayist Chuck Klosterman), the couple embarks on a cross-North American odyssey to get a sense of parenthood and themselves. But it's when things get more serious that Away We Go unwinds into narcissism.
Meeting with other hapless parents (the most embarrassing of them played by Maggie Gyllenhaal as a moronic guru of alternative parenting), Verona and Burt repeatedly have their superiority affirmed. This makes for a confidence booster, but it's childish, which is key to Away We Go's ideological failure.