Since making the funniest mainstream comedy of the last five years in The Hangover, expectations have been running high as to what the director Todd Phillips would do next (apart from The Hangover 2, of course). This odd-couple road comedy is – how to put it? – adequate.
As in, perfectly OK. As in, not a patch on The Hangover. Robert Downey Jr plays a prospective father who's hurrying home to LA in time for his wife's due date. His misfortune is to encounter a wannabe actor (Zach Galifianakis) whose idiotic behaviour gets them both kicked off a plane and forced to make a cross-country road trip together, where hilarity... sort of ensues. At one point someone says, "Have you ever seen the movie Forrest Gump?" Wrong film.
The question is, have you ever seen Planes, Trains & Automobiles? If so, you'll know that this is retreading ground once covered by Steve Martin and John Candy, with a few tweaks. Galifianakis is not very different from the needy nincompoop he played in The Hangover – instead of the Caesar's Palace gag he gets to ask whether the Grand Canyon is "man-made" – though with a dope habit and a tendency to fall asleep at the wheel he's twice as dangerous. Downey Jr is actually much the funnier of the two, his exasperation with his unwanted companion expressed in comic timing that presently has no equal in Hollywood. The script, however, worked on by four writers, runs out of juice way before the finale, and the sentimental turnaround you just know it's going to pull is much less neatly handled than the one that eventually brought Steve Martin and John Candy into a conciliatory hug.