I love movies like this because they deliver exactly what they advertise. You know what type of movie you are in for and can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the comedy. I do like movies that require more thought, but occasionally you want the mindless entertainment. This is exactly what I expect from director Todd Phillips. The movie had a plot, a few moments with some heart to it, and the rest of the movie full of things so off the wall you did not see them coming.
The film starts with oddball Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) and uptight Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) at the airport they both get kicked off and Planes, Trains & Automobiles ensues. Sure it isn’t that original of a plot (road trips and the problems that ensue have been popular fiction since Jack Kerouac) but I think that they made an effort to make it different enough, and cranked much of PT&A up enough that it works on its own.
For Robert Downey Jr.’s part, I found his character for the second half of the movie to be much more believable than the “I have never done drugs” Peter. Having said that, I think he did an okay job portraying a man who will do anything just to get home in time from his son’s birth. His sudden sharing of how his father left him as a kid to Ethan seemed very out of the blue but made you really feel for why he wanted to get home.
As for Zach Galifianakis, I am seeing that in the last year or so he has become “that crazy guy” in movies and I would kind of like him be…anyone else. I enjoyed him in both this and The Hangover, but I really hope he does have the ability to do more because I do not know how much more of this same roll I will watch. Galifianakis has great timing so he made the comedy work, I just don’t see that (and that walk he does) keeping characters going for much longer.
On the film itself, there were a few minor details that annoyed me. Mostly these had to do with the timeline. It was hard to keep track of how many days they were traveling and what day they were on, and the few times they did mention what day it was it didn’t seem to make sense (like they said it was Wednesday but two days later it was Thursday). Also, I was annoyed that Ethan was obsessed with Two and a Half Men, but that mostly revolves around my thinking that show gets more than enough press as it is and that there are way better comedies out there.
I will say that this movie was exactly what I expected, it entertained me for an hour and a half. It probably is not Oscar worthy, but sometimes we just go to movies to be entertained.