Rated: R for language, drug use and sexual content.
Length: 95 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes: 40% favorable, 5.2/10
Budget: $65 million
Box Office: $238 million (101 U.S., 111 Intl., 26 DVD)
Written by: Alan R. Cohen & Alan Freedland (First movie) and Adam Sztykiel (Made of Honor)
Written and Directed by: Todd Phillips (The Hangover, School for Scoundrels, Starsky & Hutch, Old School, and Road Trip)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifanakis
With: Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, Jon Cryer, and Charlie Sheen.
A yuppie whose wife is about to deliver a baby finds himself thrust into a very unpleasant cross-country adventure with a man whom he despises and is responsible for the messes they wind up in.
Aside from the facts that this movie is completely vulgar and not nearly as funny as it should be and that it made me want to quit watching several times long before the very end, there is something rather fascinating going on here. See, the entire point of the movie is that adventure (even adventure that involves great personal pain and frustration) is really good for us. Good because it gives us vivid memories and builds relationships with others. And even though Galifianakis is a horrid little creature, in occasional moments, Downey sees in him something either just pathetic or just valuable enough to keep going on the adventure. This of course says as much about Downey as about Galifianakis. He wants to hate him and abandon him, but he can’t. And in the end, he winds up discovering a relationship that he would never ordinarily have had because he finally came to see him as a fellow human, even with all his foibles and problems. The parallels here with parenting and with befriending the outcast from the Bible are tremendous, and I think it’s no mistake at all that Downey has this experience while he is on his way to becoming a father for the first time (!). And, in what I can only admit was a truly unexpected twist, the movie itself I think may have been intended to reinforce its own message: being unbearably bad for much of the time but turning out to have a rich thematic reward if you stick it out. It’s a lot like Planes, Trains, & Automobiles but not nearly so cute. The key artistic moment in the movie is when Galifianakis is telling Downey about his father, who was a tollbooth operator who was so popular because he would chat with the commuters and didn’t care that the lines would get long. So the point is there’s this tension between human relationships (which always take time and entail suffering) and efficiency/safety/security/ease which we all seek.
~Who in your life do you suffer for? Do you avoid people who seem likely to cost you too much? How can you decide when this is a prudent approach and when this is an unchristian approach? If Christ had thought this way about us or His disciples, what would He have done differently?
~How many of the most vivid memories you have to share with other people involved events which were catastrophic or at least very unpleasant at the time? Why does shared suffering create such a deep bond with others?
Overall Grade: B-
It’s a tremendously vulgar (Hard R) comedy-bromance that makes us ask what’s a friend, what’s a great story, and what richness of relationship we miss out on when we try only to surround ourselves with people who are easy to love.