Automobiles, Automobiles, and Automobiles [due date]

It’s a road movie. It’s a buddy comedy. It’s absurd.

It’s incredibly heartfelt.

Seriously? Seriously. Even though it exists in the universe of a comedy–where breaking the law is okay and repercussions are excised for the sake of pacing–this movie culls a lot of emotion out of its situations and its pit stops.

But don’t get me wrong, this is still a comedy. The humor doesn’t overshadow the emotion–a lot of the time it’s the exact opposite. Sight gags levy the emotion of a lot of scenes because this film never loses sight of its goal: making you laugh, which is something it does quite a lot.

It’s nice to see a comedy with a heart, though. The scenes that move the plot along aren’t just placeholders to until the next wacky car chase (of which there are plenty). A lot of the conversations they have are heartfelt, revealing the characters that are in this film instead of just, like, flat conversations where even the actors are wading through it just to show off their talents in the big setpieces.

And it’s not as if Downey, Jr. does all of the emotional weightlifting and Galifianakis does all of the humor. They’re an affable duo of overachieving assholery and naive dreams and desires that play off each other in a way that never gets old.

It’s amazing to think how far Todd Philips, the director, has come from his breakthrough on Road Trip. He seems to have figured out how to balance comedy and heart in such a way that the laughs get heightened by the characters we come to care about. It could very well be a fluke, but it really seems like this is the trajectory of his career from here on out. We’ll see what he brings to the table with the Hangover 2.

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