Thirty-somethings John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph prepare for parenthood in new movie Away We Go

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Early in Away We Go, Verona (Maya Rudolph) looks at longtime love Burt (John Krasinski) and asks, "Are we fuck-ups?" The pair will spend the film attempting to find out, along the way meeting couples raising children and screwing it up in unique and interesting ways. That they confront this question with wit and intelligence separates Away We Go from everything else currently in major release. But can a movie like this possibly survive in the crowded summer movie marketplace?

Verona is pregnant, living with Burt in Colorado so the pair can be close to his folks (Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels). With a baby on the way, the free childcare will be too good to pass up. The parents have other plans, however, and announce that they're renting the house and moving to Belgium. Don't they want to be near their grandchild? "It's only two years," they figure. With the 'rents out of the picture, Verona reasons, why stick to Colorado? Her parents are dead, so maybe they could go live near her sister in Phoenix or Burt's cousin in Wisconsin or their old college friends in Montreal.

Verona and Burt set off across the continent by train, plane and automobile in search of not only a new home but also some idea of what that home should be like. In Phoenix they first hang with Verona's sister (Carmen Ejogo) before spending an eye-opening evening with an ex-coworker friend (Allison Janney) and her everything-sucks husband (Jim Gaffigan). Janney is a hoot, talking a blue streak in front of her zombified offspring — at one point hilariously repeating her son's name to prove the child is in another world. In Wisconsin, Verona and Burt share a memorable dinner with Burt's trust-fund hippie cousin (an appropriately infuriating Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her shaggy husband (Josh Hamilton) that ends with a shouting match over whether stroller use constitutes a form of child abuse.

The early parts of Away We Go are entertaining, even if the movie is shooting at played-out targets like white trash and hippies. Just when I began to wonder if Verona and Burt would ever meet a normal couple, they do. The old college friends in Montreal (excellently played by Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey) turn out to be swell folks; their house is filled with love and the pair is eager for Verona and Burt to relocate down the block. If you sense there is more to this story, you're right and it's heartbreaking. Messina in particular delivers an incredible monologue and owns the single most memorable moment of the movie.

Away We Go wants to (quietly) say big things about a big topic, and the film ultimately succeeds because of the performances of Krasinski and Rudolph. Krasinski is essentially doing a hipster version of his persona from NBC's The Office, but it works, and the actor turns Burt into an immature but sympathetic dad-to-be. Rudolph is one of the funniest women ever to star on Saturday Night Live, though you'd never know it here. The actress is almost always serious through the film, barely even cracking a smile. It's Rudolph's job to carry the weight of the film while everyone else gets to be eccentric and go for the laugh, and she pulls it off.

Sam Mendes (America Beauty) directed Away We Go from a script by hot-shit novelist Dave Eggers (And You Shall Know Our Velocity!) and Vendela Vida, and the filmmakers have combined to make a thoughtful movie about a pair of 30-somethings who come across as real, thinking people making life's biggest decisions. I have no idea who decided to release this movie in Tampa Bay on the same weekend that Transformers opens, but they are guilty of a crime. Ultimately, I expect Away We Go will live a long life on DVD as the summer movie everyone loves but no one saw in theaters. And that's a shame.

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