Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Away We Go: Quirky Movie Excels At Quirkery

For those of you who clicked the link and went to the Robo-blog yesterday, you probably knew this post about Away We Go was coming. For those of you who didn't, click here and read my post about The Hangover. Or just read the below. I don't care what you do. And when I say that, what I mean is that I do care but I'm not going to say it because I don't want you to think I'm weak.

Okay, anyway:

I think I’m starting to get Quirk Fatigue.

What the hell am I talking about, you ask? Let me explain.

I had an English professor in college who taught that there was such a thing as aesthetic fatigue. Basically, after a certain amount of exposure the general populace will grow tired of a certain genre, at which point the genre either dies out or alters in some significant way so as to maintain interest.

I mention this because I think I’m starting to get to that point with these off-beat quirky movies. I don’t know if it qualifies as a specific genre, but you kind of know what I’m talking about, right? They’re movies about smart, liberally minded yet nonetheless unsuccessful slacker types who are trying to make their way through life and, as a result of the movie’s journey, come away at the end of it with some sort of bittersweet lesson about life or love or family or what not.

Away We Go is one of those movies. And, truthfully, this is the type of movie that I have liked quite a bit in the past – the Wes Anderson ilk, the Little Miss Sunshines of the world, the descendants of Harold and Maude. That type of movie.

And Away We Go is definitely a good one of this type, with a lot of great performances for a lot of really good characters. Jim Gaffigan, Jeff Daniels and Maggie Gyllenhaal come to mind. And I admit, Maya Rudolph was actually quite good, and John Krasinski was quite charming.

And there was certainly some great comic writing, and it was structured well and it was shot in that Indy-ish way had the good yet kind of off-beat Rushmore-esque soundtrack.

But at the end, the point where the audience is supposed to have their love of life reaffirmed and then leave with a warm and gooey brownie center, I just felt kind of cheated in a weird way. Weird because I knew what the movie wanted me to feel and, instead of melting at my core and then whistling the credits music on the drive home, my response was, ‘Yeah, ok. That was what I thought it would be.’

But, I don’t know, man. I guess I’m starting to get tired of people dealing with their existential crises in charmingly offbeat ways. And, if the previews are any indication, there are more coming. I’m curious if anyone else is starting to feel that way.


Chris Othic said...

I see your point, Nat, but I don't know, this movie was a breath of fresh air for me. I loved it. I think in most of these movies, you've got the quirky/off beat/let's-play-cool-music-that-Zach-Braff-must-have-hand-picked in the back ground thing going on but you also get that sort of tired boy meets girl/boy loses girl/boy wins girl back story or husband and wife love each other/husband and wife hate each other/husband and wife tolerate each other for the rest of their lives story. I appreciated that this was an us against them sort of movie, and I really liked the fact that our two heroes actually were in love and there was no real crisis for them.

I will admit I liked the music, too, but it definitely had that Zach Braffy thing going on. But since you know my taste in music it might actually be a good idea if i just let Zach Braff pick the music of my life.

Unknown said...

That's what frustrates me: I recognize that this was a good movie. And I actually liked it quite a bit and have historically liked this type of movie. And I also quite liked the soundtrack. I just somehow picked this particular movie to become tired of the genre.

Maybe part of it is that the 'offbeat' quality of these movies is becoming 'onbeat' through so much exposure.

Anonymous said...

Just go get the gooey brownies and it will make it all better.