Due Date

16 Nov

Title: Due Date
Todd Phillips
Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel and Todd Phillips, based on the story by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland
Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Juliette Lewis, Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride, RZA
MPAA Rating:
R, language, drug use and sexual content
100 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:

Due Date is no The Hangover, let’s just get that right out of the gate and, while it’s still a perfectly fine comedy, it should have been way better considering the director’s pedigree and how great these two stars were together on paper. So yes, I was a bit disappointed to be honest, but Due Date is still quite good, it just suffered because it came with great expectations. But still, Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis as the mismatched lead characters are still top-notch performers, Mr. Downey has the sarcasm needed by his character nailed down perfectly, and Mr. Galifianakis is a guy I’d see in any single thing he decided to do, and he’s amazing as always here.

As I said, high expectations did this one in in the end, that and the fact that it’s impossible to watch Due Date and not think about Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a great John Hughes film from which it so obviously borrows extensively and to which, unfortunately, it doesn’t hold a candle to. There’s no train in this film, just the airplane that then goes ahead and gets the two together in the car.

And, while that’s all good and fun, Due Date ultimately plays off a very familar concept and it ends up feeling a bit tired. Hell, Mr. Phillips himself has already done Road Trip, a sillier and childish film that plays off some of the topics this one touches, but still, the core concept remains. That’s kind of what made The Hangover such an amazing film, the fact that it oozed freshness, we hadn’t seen anything quite like it before, and that’s why it worked so well.

It really does feel like I’m being seriously hard on Due Date when it fact it’s a very solid B-grade film, but the thing is that Robert Downey Jr. is one of my favorite actors around and Zach Galifianakis is one of the most reliable comedic actors Hollywood has. And while Mr. Downey is still good and Mr. Galifianakis is still funny I didn’t think Due Date was the best example of how these two could have played off each other, especially when, as I said, this one looked golden on paper.

Mr. Galifianakis is Ethan Tremblay, another character tailor-made for his impeccable comedic abilities, who’s a wannabe actor trying to get to Hollywood while making a pitstop at the Grand Canyon to spread his father’s ashes. You know how Mr. Galifianakis will play this character, because his is a very specific brand of humor, not to say that he just has one trick up his sleeve, because as we saw in this year’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story he can widen his range quite nicely. But yeah, Ethan is yet another very Galifianakis character, and I say that in a good way, though the man-purse he wears here might get some people thinking about The Hangover even more than they already would be, and think they’d be better off seeing that one.

As for Mr. Downey, he’s Peter, who’s the more uptight businessman who needs to get home in time to witness the birth of his firstborn. To be honest, even though Mr. Downey’s so charismatic and he can make the most out of every single character he gets, I didn’t really connect to this character nearly as much as I did to Ethan, and I thought the jokes he got were a total disservice to Mr. Downey.

So yeah, the two meet at the airport and after a confrontation on board of the plane they are forced to get out of it, and they then get themselves on a roadtrip from coast to coast together. There are obviously a huge amount of obstacles that come their way. Juliette Lewis appears as a premium-quality pot dealer. And so does Jamie Foxx, as an ex-football player who’s a best friend to Peter and who, we discover, may or may not be the actual father of Peter’s unborn baby. Now, I get why to bring Jamie Foxx on board, he and Mr. Downey played off each other real well in The Soloist and they’re very good friends in reality, but there was something about his character, Darryl, that I didn’t quite like, he just felt a bit like overkill.

There is obviously some good raunchy humor, but we’ve come to expect that from Mr. Phillips already, and the thing is that, unlike The Hangover, while this one still has some huge laughs they are not sustained by a good story and good characters. That’s what kills the movie, and I realize this review may have sounded a bit too negative but I was just expecting so much more. I mean it was nice to see these two on screen together, and we also got to see the always awesome and always beautiful Michelle Monaghan as Peter’s wife, but there was no real character development during this ride. And the relationship between Peter and Ethan even though it ‘evolved’ on the surface had no real deeper development. There are laughs, but there is no profound insight, no underlying sweetness to the film, and that will do nothing for this film because you’ll still have fun at it, but it will get you do notice just how special a film Planes, Trains and Automobiles really is.

Grade: B


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