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Steven’s Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.7/10
(5 ratings total)
I’d normally consider it a cop-out to label a film exactly like another and purposefully avoid direct comparison between two films, but Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis as polar-opposite travel buddies thrown together by unwelcome circumstances, bears more than just a resemblance to John Hughes’ Planes, Trains & Automobiles. In this case, 21st Century update is spot-on.
The 1987 film with Steve Martin and John Candy was not so much a yuck-fest as a humorous story of two incompatible folks with different social attitudes who learn to get along. The same can be said of Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover) new film. Few surprises exist in Due Date, which sticks to a conventional “road trip that keeps getting worse” formula, but the dynamic between Downey Jr. and Galifianakis make it an enjoyable cross-country romp through familiar territory.
Downey Jr. plays Peter, an expecting father heading home to Los Angeles in time for his wife’s (Michelle Monaghan) planned C-section in a few days. While on the plane, fellow passenger Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), a clueless and eccentric aspiring actor en route to “Hollywood,” lands the two of them on the no-fly list after a “terrorism” mishap. The two must journey together (along with Ethan’s dog Sonny who has a unique “talent” to put it mildly).
Galifianakis plays a more fleshed-out version of his “Hangover” character. Ethan is slightly more eccentric and twice as naive/ignorant. One scene has them stuck at the Mexico border because he misread the “Mexico” sign as saying “Texaco.” The stand-up comic certainly has a knack for the lovable idiot. His character is so dumb he’s most certainly undeserving of sympathy, but Galifianakis earns that back. Downey Jr. plays his quick-tempered foil and the one whom we naturally identify with, just as we do with Martin in “Planes.”
Most of the mishaps are fairly run-of-the-mill. Ethan smokes marijuana for his “glaucoma,” so check off pot jokes. You may also check off ignorant car accidents, the consumption of ashes, physical assault from unlikely assaulters and masturbation. Hard to ruin a movie with that typical of a list.
Like Planes, Trains & Automobiles, the journey of the two characters provides the heart of the story. Peter can’t bring himself to totally screw over Ethan and ditch him despite the simplicity of such a feat due to Ethan’s minuscule intelligence. Rather than being two warring personalities, their relationship remains dynamic through the entire film and keeps that storyline interesting enough to the point where the predictable gags don’t run (or ruin) the show.
Due Date is certainly funny, but more so in moments and quotes than in the comedic situations. The acting earns laughs while the situational humor in the writing is hit or miss. Perhaps that’s only because the film sticks to a tried and true formula as opposed to carefully manufactured and clever plotting as in “The Hangover.” But while formula usually spells disappointment at the movies, Due Date is money and time well spent. There’s a reason John Hughes films are timeless, and even if Due Date completely hijacks that quality, there are times when familiarity can be a good thing at the movies.
Directed by Todd Phillips
Written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillips
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah thought: “Rumor has it Robert Downey Jr. said Due Date was the second greatest film he ever made. He never stated what his best was hinting that the line was all hype and no substance. Luckily for Downey, his newest comedy with Zach Galifianakis is a winner. Downey puts as much effort into this performance as he did in Less Than Zero as a younger man. He has gotten better with age and proves that regardless of genre, he is able to deliver an A+ performance. The writers kept the tender moments to a minimum, giving Due Date the feeling that it is still not your typical bromance but not overwhelming with too much straight-shooting. Though it staggers to a start, the most hysterical scenes come near the end of the duo’s tumultuous journey. These guys pull off what the man-children of The Hangover couldn’t: mounting laughter leading to a satisfying conclusion” Rating: 8/10
Joseph thought: “Todd Phillips and Zach Galifianakis’ effort following The Hangover doesn’t come anywhere near the level of hilarity said film achieved, but it’s still a worthy comedy. A simplistic and weary premise of two unlikely companions needing to get across the country is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. You will see nothing story-wise here that you’ve never seen before. Lead actors Galifianakis and Downey Jr. are the saving graces, the former proving he can do the lovable idiot once again (and do it well), while Downey Jr. shows he can handle any kind of material he’s given. The two are are a riot together. Another two actors may not have been able to do it. The key to watching the movie is to not compare it to the infinitely better The Hangover, where I had more laughs on my second and third viewings than I did here on my first one. There are enough to recommend it, but with reservations.” Rating: 5.5/10
Simon thought: “Considering the talents involved both behind and in front of the camera, Due Date is above all else disappointing. It is however also rather mirthless, crude, gross and mean-spirited, all to no real end. Preposterous events and coincidence continue to pile up as Robert Downey Jr.’s and Zach Galifianakis’ characters travel across country, and though these tropes are to be expected in a road trip comedy, they have to exude wit to be effective. Here, they are not. The biggest problem lies with how the two lead characters are written. Downey Jr. is an ass to put it bluntly, and Galifianakis is the type of character any normal person would murder after 15 minutes of his company. Combine these two personalities and you have a duo whose actions you both understand considering the circumstance but can not enjoy for a second.” Rating: 5/10
Julian’s Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.7/10