A dreadfully unfunny one-joke black comedy about hypochondria and mortality, Checking Out depends almost entirely for suspense of Jeff Daniels’ ‘Why don’t Italians have barbecues?’ Sadly, some 90 minutes elapse before he finds out.
In the interim Daniels, as budget airline executive Ray Macklin, witnesses the death by coronary of his irreverent best buddy Allan Havey. This trauma triggers the onset of a hysterical, fetishistic hypochondria that propels him through a series of discombobulating misadventures.
Daniels live in a tacky California suburb with wife Melanie Mayron and two kids. The blue-sky normalcy of his middle-class life-style is clearly intended to set up a big soft target for satirical demolition. Potshots also are misfired at American big business funeral homes, medicine and sexual hypocrisy.
Seeds of a more interesting film are scattered here and there, especially in a dazzingly photographed dream sequence that imagines heaven as a cloyingly hellish redneck cabana club in a desert oasis.