I saw Away We Go the other night. A loose road movie about two people visiting friends in different parts of the country in an attempt to find a place to raise their child. The cultural buzz around it has been that it is a smug movie about hipsters and that it stinks. (See N+1, slate, NYT). All three reviews use the word "smug." I began the movie primed to see this (not least because I found "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" to be a self-involved book about very little, which was a pretty good summary of San Francisco at the turn of the millennium.). But ultimately think is not so I think this is unfair and overly simple.
The charges of smugness are largely based on the fact that John Krasinsky (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (SNL, Idiocracy) are perceived by critics to be deified and totally unmocked, whereas everyone they visit is shown to be a terrible person. This is a false dichotomy Burt is ridiculous and incompetent, but sweet. this is obvious. His visions of a "Huck Finn childhood" for the child show him to be as delusional as any other character. If you shaved off Krasinsky's beard and gave him different glasses, the charges of hipsterism would likely evaporate. If this is the case, as I believe it is, the charges of hipsterism are pretty flimsy.
As for the caricatures of the friends they visit, there are two important things that the reviewers miss. the first is the the caricatures are meant to show the way guest perceive their hosts (and vice versa) rather than how those people actually are. the scenes are funny insights into how pregnant every misspeak is in our extrapolating minds. They are also not the one-side snipefests that the critics declare. Krasinsky is clearly rude to his hosts in Madison, when he could easily have endured the dinner graciously. he is at fault socially, even if the scene is played for comedy.
The second is that the miscarrying Montreal family and the protagonists (mistaken by critics for blameless) are also ridiculous. the Montreal and their adopted brood are self-involved and affected too. and when rudolph gushes "I want that family," it shows clearly that she is not immune to the myth-making and self-delusion that all the characters, even the grotesques, share.
There are parts of the movie that miss. Rudolph's monologue about the plastic fruit tree is stilted and obviously misses the intended speech pattern of the writer, and there are a few bits of self-conscious quirk (e.g., the itinerary stapled to the jacket lining) that I could have lived without.
As for charges that the characters believe themselves to be uniquely special in a world of ogres, who does not believe this deep down? This is the charge against baby boomers. It is the charge against "navel gazing" Gen Xers. It is now the charge against highly-mediated Gen Y. This looks like an inherent trait to me. Perhaps the critics doth protest too much.