Burt Farlander (played by John Krasinski) and his partner Verona De Tessant (by Maya Rudolph) live together. Burt would love to be married, but Verona is adamant that although she truly loves Burt, marriage is not for her – and never will be. The couple discover they are pregnant and realise they need to provide a solid foundation for their child. Having little idea of the best sort of environment to create, they plan to align themselves with one of the happy couples they know, thinking “…after all, if it works for them, it’ll work for us too, right?” They visit Burt’s parents (by Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels), but discover that they are about to sell up and decamp to Belgium for two years. As both Verona’s parents are dead, they feel left all at sea, so they set off for Phoenix, convinced this is the right place for them as Verona’s former work colleague (by Alison Janney) and her family have settled there. This doesn’t quite work out, so they move on to a series of other families in other cities. They try Verona’s sister Grace (by Carmen Ejogo), then Burt’s childhood friend (by Maggie Gyllenhaal), their old college friends (by Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey) and finally Burt’s brother (by Paul Schneider). But in every case, Burt and Verona don’t quite find their ideal place. At last, the couple realise they need to make their life the way it will suit them and they start to settle and build their own life in a place they have found for themselves.
This movie starts out as a quirky comedy, but the audience is slowly drawn to Burt and Verona as they progress on their journey – geographically and emotionally. Each of the lives they observe is bizarre in its own way and there is a clear sledge-hammer point to each interaction. At last, even though the audience knew this from the start, as a last resort the couple start to develop their own best life to prepare for their impending family. In that sense, the movie is very nice – it develops well and maintains the quirkiness without being pathetic or smug. I think the characters would all have been fun to play – the two best and most entertaining are by Alison Janney and Maggie Gyllenhaal – horrifying and glorious as they each demonstrate their unique approach to parenting.
It was a surprise actually, as it ended much better than it began – it’s a nice movie.
Made 2009. Directed by Sam Mendes