November 18, 2010

Movie Review: Due Date

duedate1_largeFor as long as there have been road movies, there have been buddy comedies. Vice versa is always true. Knowing this will help you get past the fact that Due Date is not an original movie. This is not to say it isn't funny, nor is it an attempt to give it a pass when it isn't. Now, with all the legions of buddy road comedies there is one that rose above the din that seems to be rather similar to this. I am sure you know the movie I am about to say, so all together: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Yes, the John Hughes helmed 1987 comedy that paired Steve Martin and John Candy on a calamitous and hilarious journey as Martin attempts to get home for Thanksgiving.

In Due Date we get Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis in place of Martin and Candy, but the journey is similar. I went into this really looking forward to it, despite the familiarity of the story it looked really funny based on the trailers. Many of my friends had the opportunity to see this before me and most of them came away quite impressed, so I was hopeful that it would deliver n the promise of the trailer. Unfortunately, the movie turned out to be mediocre at best and most of the funny sequences were spoiled in the trailers.


Robert Downey Jr. is Peter Highman, a man trying to get home to his wife (Michelle Monaghan) who is preparing to give birth to the couple's first child. The plan is to fly from Atlanta to California, but as we all know plans are made to be broken. In this case it is Peter's chance meeting with Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis). The idiosyncratic Ethan has starry-eyed dreams of Hollywood, inspired by his deceased father (whose ashes he carries in a coffee can), and an uncanny ability to annoy Peter with his utter lack of social skills.

They have what a romantic comedy would call a meet cute followed by a series of events that ensures the two will be forced together for a good deal of time. This occurs as their airplane is preparing for takeoff. Minutes later the two are sharing a rental car as they journey across the great United States where they are destined to drive each other nus.

Yes, the movie is funny and entertaining, but at the same time I found it to be mean spirited and a little off putting. This is the sort of film that requires some manner of change in characters by the end and I am just not feeling it here. Yes, the attitudes at the end feel a little bit different but it seems more about the characters requiring it rather that having an organic feel driven by the flow of the narrative. Perhaps I am expecting too much. Yes, that may be true, I also suspect that if I watch this at home down the road I will enjoy it more.


I think my biggest problem was that the movie seemed steadfast in presenting these characters at their quirkiest or at their worst, always wanting to up the ante rather than grow the characters. Downey Jr.'s character is a bastard and never really gets any better, granted he is awesome at it, but still. Galifiniakis is quirky and annoying and never gets any better. Together they are great, but in small doses. They seem to exist outside of the real world and the people they interact with A good example of this is Peter's wife, do you think they look like a real couple? How did she end up with such an ass? Only in the movies.

In the end, the mean-spiritedness did not sit well with me, the jokes came sporadically and the story never really came together. I liked the cameos, particularly RZA and Danny McBride. It is not a movie to get made about, it is just one that offered some laughs but left me feeling flat.

Mildly Recommended.

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