A skinny, scowly, and dryly self-referential Robert Downey Jr. meets a chubby, beardy, quasi-autistic Zach Galifianakis boarding a flight. Downey Jr. plays Peter, a Bluetoothed architect with a very pregnant wife waiting at home for him; Galifianakis' Ethan is a would-be movie star headed to Hollywood, with a pocket dog under one arm and his recently deceased dad's ashes under the other. One nonsensical altercation later, both Peter and Ethan are kicked off the plane and barred from boarding another. Ethan rents a car and offers Peter a cross-country ride, which provides a framework for this odd couple to bicker, smoke lots of pot, destroy several cars, evade border police, and work out daddy issues in the process. From its breakneck pace to its stoneresque disinterest in Chekhovian payoff that's such a balls-out fuck-you to conventional screenwriting that it's sort of exciting, Due Date is fast, lazy, and out of control in a manner that's basically commendable. Like The Hangover before it, Due Date barrels through increasingly fantastic set pieces on its way to a major rite of passage, but in this case the journey is divorced from the destination. Downey's Peter has no need for big life lessons: He's kind of an asshole, but an asshole fully committed to his marriage and impending fatherhood, and he's allowed to stay more or less the same throughout. Due Date's reluctance to impose late-inning moral change may just be a function of its lackadaisical construction, but it's refreshing nonetheless.
Downey Jr. (left) and Galifianakis as unlikely soul-mates.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Nov. 5. Rated R. 95 minutes.