Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan
By Alan Bacchus
The perceived failure of this picture notwithstanding, Due Date is actually a pretty decent film. Perhaps the sleepy critical and audience reception stems from the fact that there’s very little we haven’t seen in this film that isn’t in all other road/buddy pictures which came before it. Much has been made of the similarities between this and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And sure, perhaps this film is an unofficial remake of said John Hughes classic, but so what, it’s certainly not stale bread and is actually a lot of fun.
The Todd Phillips brand of broad physical comedy and a strong ‘heart’ binds this picture together. And certainly the affability of both actors (Galifianakis and Downey) make each of it’s scant 90mins easily watchable and entertaining.
I don’t know how much range Mr. Galifianakis has an actor, and perhaps his shelf life is limited in traditional feature films, but Due Date is the perfect vehicle for him. In The Hangover, he was the wild card, who had timing good enough to have his zingers stick. In Due Date, he’s one half of the film in what really is the exact same role as in The Hangover, by way of his online persona on the Between Two Ferns series.
The story goes like this, Downey plays a stuck up right-brained architect Peter Highman wh,o before a flight back to LA gets kicked off the plane for fighting with an obnoxious passenger, but in the melee loses his wallet, ID, money, credits and everything else. The only way he can make it to the birth of his child is by teaming up with the same person who got him kicked off the plane in the first place. This is Ethan Tremblay (Galafinakis) a doofus of extraordinary proportions who desires to move to Hollywood to start an acting career. All he has with him are his ludricrous headshots, a coffee can containing his father’s ashes and a french bulldog.
The actual gags are perfunctory speedbumbs along the road. Stuff like the comedy of errors with homeland security, Ethan’s masterbating dog and even dialogue like, “if you are allergic to waffles, don't eat them. Then don’t take me to a waffle house’, which was quoted in every trailer, isn’t really funny. And we know Ethan’s ashes will be mishandled and either consumed or bathed in at some point in the film. These are all rehashed gags from other comedies and are not the highlights of the film.
What works is the dynamic between Downey and Galifianakis, like the Steve Martin/John Candy relationship the trajectory from 100% conflict to sincere admiration and friendship for each other is surprisingly heartwarming and delightful. Todd Phillips saves us from the schmaltz of the Hughes movie, his trademark chaotic tone remains, and at 90+mins it’s not a minute too long.
The fact this movie was squeezed in between the two Hangover movies is evident. The movie seems rushed, and according to interviews with Phillips it seems as if the script was essentially rewritten as the film went along. But Phillips’ casting of the leads and the careful placement of a few key cameos, including a fun turn by Phillips himself, makes it all satisfying and a decent rental.
Due Date is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Warner Home Entertainment