Welcome to the ritual humiliation of Robert Downey Jr. Gotta wonder if the dude simply is a masochist who enjoys looking deeply embarrassed onscreen or if someone has some serious dirt on him — worse than the stuff we already know about him, that is — because it’s impossible to imagine that the tens of millions of dollars that two Iron Man movies and two Sherlock Holmes movies have earned him means he’s desperate for a paycheck, any paycheck. Or maybe he’s just a whore who will do anything for the $12 million he reportedly received for Due Date.
I don’t know what else can explain his presence here. Zach Galifianakis has already proven that Zach Galifianakis has no shame, but Downey? I thought he knew he was better than this kind of crap. I thought he knew that we know he’s better than this.
“I’ve never done drugs in my life,” Downey’s Peter Highman is forced by the atrocious script to say at a security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Whoever came to the conclusion that debasement at the hands of the TSA is comedy gold should be declared a traitor against the former freedoms of the American people, because the tacit acceptance of such jackbootery by undertrained minimum-wage security-theater spear-carriers that this brand of “humor” represents is only reinforcing its acceptance. But this is not the end of it for Peter: he will soon be tossed off his flight — after a preposterous encounter with an air marshal — and his name added to that now-legendary missive of bureaucratic despotism: the no-fly list. Hilarious! Oh, America, land of such comedy opportunity.
So now Peter must find some other way of getting home to Los Angeles, where his wife, Sarah (Michelle Monaghan: Eagle Eye, Made of Honor), is due to give birth by C-section in a mere few days. He’s without money or credit cards, since his wallet got left on the plane when he was forcibly removed, and it appears he is contemplating stealing a car from a rental-car lot — which is about as bad an example of disgrace for Peter/Downey because this has no chance of working — when he is offered a lift by Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis: It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Dinner for Schmucks)… the guy whose idiocy got Peter tossed off the plane in the first place. Naturally, he will accept this offer: he is forced to do so by the cruel machinations of the script.
Ethan might actually be mentally retarded — he believes the coffee can holding the cremated remains of his father is “vacuum sealed” because it says so on the label — and this is also purportedly hilarious, because it allows further humiliation of Peter/Downey. During the course of their crosscountry drive, Peter will be vomited on, forced to witness Ethan — and his dog! — masturbating, beaten up by an enraged Iraq war vet, seriously injured in a car crash, and compelled to consider the possibility that his wife might be pregnant by another man, and many other pointlessly cruel things, all thanks to Ethan.
Peter will not be completely innocent of wrongdoing: one particularly awful scene involves him being pointlessly cruel to a couple of random children. Remember: this man is excited about his impending fatherhood! Let’s hope Sarah never leaves him alone with the baby.
Oh, and one more thing: This character who has never done drugs in his life — and this actor with his sad history of debilitating drug abuse — is forced by the movie to get high against his will (don’t even ask how this happens; it’s ridiculous, and not in a good way). I cannot fucking wait for pot to be legalized so we can finally see an end to “funny” scenes in juvenile movies about weed and getting stoned.
Then against, the TSA legalized pointless cruelty, so perhaps we’re stuck with pot jokes stomping on our faces forever, too.