Review in a Hurry: A road trip movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis should be a match made in buddy-flick heaven. Alas, with barely any planes, no trains and only a few automobiles, director Todd Phillips' much-anticipated comedy is an only occasionally funny and mostly bumpy ride.
The Bigger Picture: Peter Highman (Downey) is a tightly wound father-to-be whose wife's due date is only days away. On his way to Los Angeles from Atlanta he meets Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis). Through a series of wacky events, Tremblay inadvertently gets both men kicked off their plane and put on a "no fly" list...while Peter's luggage, wallet and ID take off without him. Although Peter already despises Ethan, he finds himself stuck with him—he is the dude with a rental car after all, so it's off to L.A. they go.
With both actors coming off very successful hits, Phillips had the right idea casting Downey and Galifianakis in a story that focuses on their interactions. They have great chemistry together.
Like many comedies of late, however, the script (by Phillips, Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland and Adam Sztykiel) is too focused on pitting crazy guy vs. crazier guy. While Ethan is the wacky man-child, sporting a bad perm and constantly talking about needing to go pee-pee, Peter is just as immature. (He's the one with the rage issues.) So it's not a shock that both men are a stunted mess and will most likely learn a lot as they travel from cheap hotels to the Mexican border. And if the film had more gut-busters and actual jokes, these character types wouldn't be an issue. But after the third time we hear Peter threaten to take out Ethan via a household appliance, the gag gets old. Worse is hearing Ethan ponder that Shakespeare was pronounced "Shakesbeard" and he was a pirate. Random goofiness only begets more tired jokes.
Speaking of tired, the time has come to recognize that as talented as Downey is, maybe he should stop taking scripts that are half-baked like this one and quit relying on his I'll-just-wing-it approach. Yes, it served him well on the first Iron Man, but not so much with Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man II and now, Due Date.
Thankfully, a small part of the movie—that isn't just Downey and Galifianakis—features solid cameos by Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis and Danny McBride. McBride, in particular, is in the funniest scene, playing a currency exchange teller who won't release $500 from a wire transaction. His über-machoness makes for a genuinely hilarious clash with Downey's rageaholic ways. Maybe they should do the sequel together?
The 180—a Second Opinion: As proven in The Hangover, Phillips knows how to shoot gorgeous, colorful films. Case in point, a stop at the Grand Canyon is sort of awe-inspiring and, dare we even say it, touching?