Peter (Downey) is an architect in Atlanta on business, ready to go home for the birth of his first child. While his wife (Monaghan) waits for him in Los Angeles, he heads to the airport but gets entangled with dorky aspiring actor Ethan (Galifianakis) and ends up on the no-fly list. As Peter and Ethan drive cross-country a series of adventures ensue, from a stop to buy medical marijuana to a car crash caused by a spot of narcolepsy to an action-packed encounter on the Mexican border.
Along the way, the film is populated by scene-stealing actors like Foxx (as Peter's friend in Dallas), Lewis (as a Birmingham drug dealer), McBride (as an annoyed Western Union clerk) and RZA (as an airport screener). But where each of these sequences should be a riot of crossed wires and silly interaction, they merely propel the film's rage-based comedy further. Perhaps seeing Downey punch a child, spit on a dog or get into a brawl with a man in a wheelchair looked funny on paper. But it's pretty painful to watch.
At least Downey plays it dead straight, even finding resonance in the more emotional moments. And Galifianakis is also playing it straight as the kind of a complete idiot who only exists in the movies. The character is hugely inconsistent, contrived to meet the script's random demands. But then, every scene and plot turn is infected with this same clanking implausibility. And if we can't believe the story for a second, why should we care when the writers try to crank up the sentiment?
The problem isn't with the cast; they gamely dive into each set-piece with impeccable timing and a real sense of character. But they're undermined by lazy writing at every turn, while Phillips' direction lacks the spark of energetic unpredictability that he found in The Hangover. By contrast, this film leaves us with a hangover. My head still hurts.
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th November 2010
Box Office USA: $100.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $211.7M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, Green Hat Films
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 74 Rotten: 111
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Todd Phillips
Screenwriter: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillips
Starring: Zach Galifianakis as Ethan Tremblay, Robert Downey Jr. as Peter Highman, Michelle Monaghan as Darryl, Jamie Foxx as Darryl, Juliette Lewis as Heidi, Danny McBride as Lonnie, RZA as Airport Screener, Matt Walsh as TSA Agent, Brody Stevens as Limo Driver, Jakob Ulrich as Patrick, Naiia Ulrich as Alex, Todd Phillips as Barry, Bobby Tisdale as Carl, Sharon Conley as Airport X-Ray (as Sharon Morris), Nathalie Fay as Flight Attendant
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