When expecting a child, you rarely see a couple so well adjusted as Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolf) . Their main worry is where do they want to raise their child.
They travel across America visiting various friends, all who give an example (albeit slightly extreme ones) of parenting techniques.
We get the following:
The selfishness of Burts Parents, Gloria and Jerry (played by Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara) who are not sticking around to see the birth of their grandchild so they can move to Belgium,
The crude and drunken Lily who is a monster of a wife and mother, and would come across totally one dimensional if not for Allison Janney injecting her with a sadness beneath her brash humour. You laugh with her, even though you are appalled.
The hippy feminist who likes to breast feed other peoples children, let her young son watch her have sex, and hates strollers. Played far too over the top by Maggie Gyllenhaal who appears to want the audience to hate her.
The two hip parents with an adopted brood who love each other so much. They seem like the perfect couple but you learn of the paid that nearly breaks them.
Finally we meet Burts brother whose wife has upped and left him with a young daughter. He worries about how she will manage growing up being ht girl who’s mother left. The effect divorce has, and how it can shape children in ways not many parents consider is voiced eloquently by Burts broken brother.
These latter two stories are the part of the film that had the biggest emotional punch.
This is about belonging. How the family we came from and the families around us shape us into who we want to be, for ourselves, our partner and our children. It is about the complexity and joy of being part of a family even if it just ends up being a family of two or three.
The story is anchored by the two leads. Krasinski is wonderful and walks away with some of the films biggest laughs, but it is Rudolph who captured my heart in this. Her Verona is a woman who is trying to balance the pain of her past with the joy of present and the uncertainty of her future. It is one of the unsung performances of 2009.