Blu-ray
Recommended
3.5 stars
Amazon
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Away We Go

Street Date:
September 29th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
September 29th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Universal Studios
Length:
98 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

With its decidedly indie charm, 'Away We Go' is a tender film with some poignant views on parenting and the complications that come from bringing a child into this world.

Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are a relatively poor couple who have just learned they're pregnant. They soon find out that Burt's mildly insane parents, who live nearby, are moving to Europe a month before the baby is due. Since they both work from home, and since family ties are suddenly much looser than expected, the two realize they can essentially move anywhere they want. So they set off on a trip, hop-scotching around the U.S. visiting friends and family, trying to figure out where they'd like to live.

'Away We Go' is one of those coming of age, road-tripping movies where the protagonists encounter eclectic characters throughout their journey, including: Annoyingly crass friends in Phoenix played by Allison Janney and Jim Gaffigan. A loving sister in Tucson. Nutty hippies in Madison. A loving family in Montreal. And a brother reeling from family strife in Miami.

As they travel the country trying to find a place to call home, they actually end up learning a lot more about themselves and the kinds of parents they'd like to be. Throughout the film, varied parenting styles are presented that help Burt and Verona shape the way they will raise their child and the type of family they would like to create. Krasinski and Rudolph have pitch-perfect chemistry together on screen. Their relationship and love for one another feels utterly genuine here.

The quirky writing and characters may deter some (This is after all written by husband and wife novelists Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida), but 'Away We Go' is a sweet movie that sheds light on what expecting parents might be feeling as they wait for their baby to arrive. Sam Mendes directs the film like he's in no rush to get his point across, rather we meander in and out of different peoples' lives gleaning different lessons from each of them.

I enjoyed 'Away We Go' immensely. With all of its quirky characters and dialogue, it has a real heart, and real flesh and blood characters. These are people we can care about.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer for 'Away We Go' is fairly solid, and looks great for a low key, low budget indie film.

Colors are bright and vibrant. Each location is given its time to shine. The earth tones of the southwest are rich, while the bright lights of Miami's South Beach are pulsating with life. There are however a couple stock footage, scene-setting shots that seem a bit off and extremely soft on detail. The transfer does soften a bit in some places, but overall fine detail is rich and plentiful. Textures and patterns are handled well. There's a scene where Burt and Verona are sitting in a hotel lobby waiting for Verona's sister that is a perfect example of the perfect blending of colors, textures, patterns and details that the transfer handles so well. Blacks are deep. Overall, this is a very clean transfer that retains the indie feel of the film.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works well here. Dialogue is always clear. Voice directionality is perfect in the front channels. As is expected with a talkative drama such as this, the surround channels aren't all that engaging. There is some ambient noise in restaurants and clubs, but that's about it. The subwoofer is also silent for the most part of the film, only kicking in when the music on the soundtrack needs it, or in the club scene in Montreal. It's not flashy or demo worthy, but there's also nothing in the way of technical issues that should keep this audio track from scoring high marks.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary - Director Sam Mendes, and writers Vendela Vida and Dave Eggers offer an engaging and fun commentary. Fans of all three will want to give this commentary a listen. They all have great chemistry together, and give some insightful information on how the project evolved over time and how it came to be.
  • The Making of 'Away We Go' (HD, 17 min) - It's a shame this featurette is so fluffy, with no real substance to it. Sure you get a few insights into what it was like filming the movie, but you'll get a lot more information like that in the commentary. Mostly EPK material here.
  • Green Filmmaking (HD, 7 min) - This is just a quick look at the filmmaking process and how Mendes and company tried to make the filming of the movie as environmentally friendly as possible.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Universal has also added the 'My Scenes' feature along with bare bones BD-Live functionality.

Final Thoughts

'Away We Go' is a sweet, tender film that tugs at the heart without trying to forcefully beat the tears out of you. This is a genuine film that deserves to be seen. With some solid audio and video for this type of production, this one comes recommended.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.39:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound
  • French DTS 5.1
  • Spanish DTS 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Feature commentary with director Sam Mendes and writers Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida
  • The Making of Away We Go
  • Green Filmmaking

Exclusive HD Content

  • BD-Live
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