THE tug of war between nurture and nature continues to divide experts in the fields of child development and education.
Are intelligence and cruelty hard-wired at birth, and are we predisposed to certain behaviour before our first glimpse of daylight? Or does the love of the family shape our conduct towards others? So, are children from broken homes doomed to repeat mistakes of their parents?
In this film, an expectant couple contemplate moving halfway across America so that their child will be raised in a safe environment. The irony is that they are far better equipped to raise their baby than almost everyone they encounter during a madcap road trip.
After the emotional ‘sturm und drang’ of Revolutionary Road and Jarhead, Oscar-winning British director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) returns to the comedy genre with aplomb, demonstrating a light touch with his dysfunctional characters. The film opens as it means to go on, with a hysterical bedroom scene introducing Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph).
Burt’s parents throw a spanner in the works by announcing they are moving to Belgium before the baby is born, leaving them without a support network.
So Burt and Verona ponder a move, kick-starting a journey of exploration, visiting an old boss and friends, until an emergency telephone call forces a detour to Miami, and they reconsider their definition of ‘home’.
This is an entertaining ensemble piece that paints a vivid portrait of contemporary America and its foibles.
Krasinski and Rudolph are instantly lovable while the narrative chugs along, covered in a thin veneer of sentimentality, towards an upbeat and life-affirming conclusion.