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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The summer movie season brings lots of blockbusters and some smaller films which can flourish around the edges. One of those is out this weekend. It's called "Away We Go," and it's directed by Sam Mendes. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: "Away We Go" is a quirky film that details the adventures of an endearing young couple apprehensive about their impending parenthood. The young couple in question are played by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. They're so immediately appealing, so obviously right for each other, they don't have to worry about anything.

But worry they do, so off they go on a rambling trip across the country to visit old friends and family. Sadly, the other people in the film make up for that anxiety by being smug and self-involved, like the young man's parents played by Jeff Daniels and Catherine O'Hara. They decide to leave the country just as their grandchild is about to be born.

(Soundbite of movie, "Away We Go")

Ms. CATHERINE O'HARA (Actress): (As Gloria Farlander) Okay, we have news.

Mr. JEFF DANIELS (Actor): (As Jerry Farlander) It's big.

Mr. JOHN KRASINSKI (Actor): (As Burt Farlander): What is it?

Ms. O'HARA: (As Gloria Farlander) We're leaving in June.

Mr. DANIELS: (As Jerry Farlander) We're finally doing it.

Mr. KRASINSKI: (As Burt Farlander) You're leaving in June?

Ms. O'HARA: (As Gloria Farlander) Mm-hmm.

Mr. KRASINSKI: (As Burt Farlander) The baby's due in July.

Mr. DANIELS: (As Jerry Farlander) Right, to Antwerp, City of Light.

Mr. KRASINSKI: (As Burt Farlander) No, you're not.

Mr. DANIELS: (As Jerry Farlander) Yeah, we are. It's going to be superb.

Mr. KRASINSKI: (As Burt Farlander) No, and don't say that word.

Ms. O'HARA: (As Gloria Farlander) We thought you'd be proud of us. We've been talking about this for 15 years, and now we can finally do it.

Mr. KRASINSKI: (As Burt Farlander) You're moving 3,000 miles away from your grandchild.

Ms. O'HARA: (As Gloria Farlander) Oh, I think it's more than 3,000, isn't it Jerry?

Mr. DANIELS: (As Jerry Farlander) Oh, I think so.

TURAN: The trip exposes them to couples who are such dismaying grotesques that our heroes seem sane and responsible by comparison. Here's a small taste of Lily, a former coworker played by Allison Janney.

(Soundbite of movie, "Away We Go")

Ms. ALLISON JANNEY (Actress): (As Lily) Oh, God, look at you. You're only six months in. Jesus, you're huge. And your face is so fat. Oh, come here, give us a hug. Lowell, come and give a hug to the most beautiful woman in the world. Look at that. Come on, don't be such a pill. He's upset 'cause we didn't get into the club.

TURAN: These characters are supposed to be funny, but the portraits are so overdrawn, they're more contemptuous than comic, filled with meanness instead of laughter.

The warmth and goodwill the film's protagonists generate on their own is never matched by anything else put on screen. And that does feel like a shame.

(Soundbite of song, "Hardest Geometry Problem in the World")

MONTAGNE: The movie is "Away We Go." Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times. And we review more movies, including the raucous new buddy comedy "The Hangover," at npr.org.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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