Opening 4 Nov 2010
Writing credits: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillips
Principal actors: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) and his wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) are expecting their first child. When the film opens, Peter, in Atlanta, is in bed and talking on the phone with his wife who is in Los Angeles. He recounts his dream: on his return to the West Coast, he is intercepted by a big bear, which eventually witnesses the birth and even cuts the umbilical cord. And that’s what happens. So, technically, you could leave the cinema after the first five minutes. However, if you’ve seen Todd Phillips’ film The Hangover, you can predict that plenty more is on for the next 90 minutes. You won’t be disappointed.
At the airport Peter’s soon-to-be nemesis Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifiankis) crosses his path, first in a car accident, then in a luggage mix-up, then in the plane. From that point it becomes a road movie as they are forced to ditch flight plans and rent a car. Peter needs to be with his wife for the birth; Ethan wants to go to Hollywood to become a famous actor. Driving across the U.S. from Georgia to Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, the Grand Canyon, New Mexico and finally California, they detest each other in bursts of dialog, bodily harm, ominous silence, unacceptable dependency and a few hugs. The action revolves around a dog named Sonny, a terrible accident, an Iraq War veteran, a coffee can full of ashes, a drug dealer (Juliette Lewis), old friend Darryl (Jamie Foxx), and the Mexican border patrol.
This could be a classic Laurel and Hardy comedy routine. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis feed each other lines which keep the pace snappy. Downey Jr. is the uptight Mr. Right in a suit, who knows all the answers and has a plan. Galifiankis plays a big, bearded, fuzzy man. He is friendly, sensitive, easily hurt, irritating in his childish innocence and has solutions. By the end of the journey each has assumed some of the characteristics of the other. The jokes keep you in stitches the whole time, but afterwards, you can’t really remember what was so funny (although I remember very well the way Galifianakis walks – hilarious and he doesn’t say a word). It’s a lark while it lasts, and you can enjoy two brilliant actors who never lose character. (Becky Tan)