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In WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991), Bill Murray’s title character explained away his marriage break-up by pointing out that “some people like Neil Diamond and some don’t.” I found myself with similar conflicting feelings about Zach Galifianakis’s (THE HANGOVER) “manchild slob” persona in this uneven road trip comedy pairing him with a wound-too-tightly expectant father (Robert Downey Jr.) as they make a cross-country journey to arrive in time for the birth of the latter’s child. Sometimes his shaggy wannabe actor is pretty amiable in a humorously quirky sort of fashion while at other times he’s irritating to the degree of killing any viewer’s incentive to watch him screw up Downey’s (IRON MAN) life for an hour-and-a-half. But don’t think that I’m laying all the blame for the failings of this movie on Galifianakis’s shoulders because the screenplay is replete with off-target sequences that find humor in drunk and stoned driving, drug-dealing mothers (Juliette Lewis) and people pleasuring themselves in the presence of others. These are cringe-inducing scenes in a plot that borrows heavily from PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES (1987) where unlikely traveling companions get thrown together with comedic results. No such outcome happens in this work which strains to be funny and more often than not fails to accomplish that purpose. Storylines involving talents like Lewis (NATURAL BORN KILLERS) and Jamie Foxx (RAY) go absolutely nowhere contributing nothing to a movie that lacks cohesiveness, never really holding together as a narrative. This is one of those attempted comedies depicting situations where everybody acts like an idiot in the desperate hope that an audience will be made up of idiots buying into whatever half-baked premise is placed before them. Hopefully, we’re all a lot smarter than that. CRITIC’S GRADE: C-

EXCELLENT MOVIES DIRECTED BY MARTIN SCORSESE WHO TURNS 68 TODAY: MEAN STREETS (1973), ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974), TAXI DRIVER (1976), THE LAST WALTZ (1978), RAGING BULL (1980)*, THE KING OF COMEDY (1983), THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986), THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988)*, GOODFELLAS (1990)*, GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002)*, THE AVIATOR (2004)*, THE DEPARTED (2006)**, SHINE A LIGHT (2008), SHUTTER ISLAND (2010)

* Academy Award nomination for Best Director

** Won Academy Award for Best Director