by M. Faust
It’s a well-worn formula: Take two characters who are guaranteed to grate on each other’s nerves, force them together on a cross-country trip, and watch the sparks fly. Just off the top of my head: It Happened One Night, The Defiant Ones, Midnight Run, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. To that list you can add this unambitious comedy, which ran out of inspiration after casting Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis as the odd couple. The former is an architect who is tightly wound under the best of circumstances, but even more so as the birth of his first child approaches. In a hurry to get back to California from a business trip to Atlanta, his path is crossed by Galifianakis as a fey would-be actor on his way to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. The two are schematically designed to be as opposite as possible, but not fleshed out enough to make us care about either of them: Add that both have daddy issues and you now know just about everything there is to know about them. Nor does the script find interesting ways to exploit their differences. Downey and Galifianakis are funny individually, but you get that just by hiring them; it would be more of a distinction to make a film that somehow prevented either of them from being funny. (There were times when I wondered if that was director Todd Phillips’ goal: Refusing to play Downey telling an airport security agent “I’ve never done drugs in my life” as a laugh line seems like comedy suicide to me.) Bits by Danny McBride as a cranky paraplegic and Juliette Lewis as a spacey drug dealer help pass the time, but Jamie Foxx is wasted in a brief appearance. Phillips, whose Hollywood success seems to be getting hired for projects that require minimal direction (Old School, Starsky and Hutch) limits his fondness for gross-out jokes to a shot of a masturbating dog, which means that even fans of his hit The Hangover may be disappointed here.
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