STUDIO: Warner Bros. (BUY IT FROM CHUD.COM)
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
- Deleted Scenes
- Action Mashup
- Too Many Questions Mashup
- Gag Reel
- “Two and a Half Men” Sequence featuring Ethan Tremblay
Todd Phillips (director).
Zach Galifanakis & Robert Downey Jr. (stars).
Alan R. Cohen, Adam Sztykiel, & Todd Phillips (screenplay).
A road trip featuring an idiot and a cynical dude on his way across the country to witness the birth of his child.
You’d figure that the involvement of the trio of Robert Downey Jr, Zach Galifanakis, and director Todd Phillips would make for a delicious combination for comedic possibilities. Add in small appearances by the likes of Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride, Michelle Monaghan, and Juliette Lewis and it should be tipping over with goodness. It really isn’t, though. Due Date isn’t a bad movie, but it’s surprisingly unfunny. That’s usually a death knell for a comedy, but in this case the weird cocktail of personalities is rather watchable. There’s no killer scene and both leading characters are rather unlikable but as diversion go there are plenty of worse offenders out there.
But it still is just… weird.
Due Date is like a tapas meal. Some really nice little tastes between more elaborate courses. It really feels like an exercise, with Phillips and Galifanakis coming of the monster that was The Hangover and Downey and Foxx riding an incredible wave of success from The Soloist.
Ahem. I mean other films that succeeded.
This feels like practice between movies. Riffing. Seeing the sights on someone else’s dime.
Regardless of the pitch, development, or reasoning the film is slight and odd but not without its charms. Downey is Peter Highman, a man on the eve of the birth of his first child. He’s self-centered and in Atlanta on business (some of the film was shot in my adopted home town) while his wife (Monaghan, almost entirely unused) awaits on the Left Coast. Playing a character much more on edge, cynical, and not able to ride on the seemingly unlimited charisma the actor has at his disposal, Downey isn’t given a whole lot to do aside from react to Galifanakis as he plays a slightly less abstract version of his career making performance from The Hangover. Plus there’s a small dog.
I have to admit, the dog really irked me in the trailers. A small dog is poison to comedy. It’s just too damn easy and familiar and it reeks of the very dead center of the mainstream. As expected the dog is used for some cheap laughs and continues the equation of Phillips + Zach + Small Living Thing in a Worn Harness. In the film it’s a crutch but not as annoying as I feared.
Galifanakis plays Ethan Tremblay, a man-child carrying his father’s remains in a coffee can [The Three Burials of Juan Valdes?]. He has a tiny dog, quirks to spare, and an unhealthy obsession with Two and a Half Men. Were Galifanakis not so good at at delivering absurdity the character could been either too thinly drawn or worse yet… downright scary. With that in mind the jokes tend to be seeds of good ideas but never really delivered on.
The two are thrust together first in uncomfortable encounters at the airport and then on the plane, and finally after a very pointless scene involving medicinal marijuana the two are “forced” into being in the same car for a cross country journey West. It’s an impossible conceit, but so too is that someone would watch Three and Half Men more than once. What follows is a handful of little character moments, clashes between the leads, and cameos that range from good (McBride) to tacked on (Foxx). I found myself interested and entertained enough to hang in there but the movie’s just not all that funny. It also doesn’t embrace the weirdness enough. If a story features a man masturbating in the car while the other one tries to sleep and the drinking of a dead man’s ashes, there’s a lot of room to be nutty. Additionally, a car escape sequence just takes the film into very familiar and overdone territorty. It’s also a missed opportunity because the two leads have such unique energy individually there’s a desire to see what the result of letting these two go unhinged would be like. Instead, the mixtures feels underdeveloped and a few tweaks shy of being something special. It’s not bad, just a minor comedy. It’s like a less memorable Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. If that works for you, have fun.
KEEPER, RENTER, or AVOIDER?
If you’re interested in it at all, it’s a renter though I would say that if your time is limited it’s best to find more fertile material to spend your time with. As road trip movies go, the Candy/Martin one, the first Vacation, or even The Sure Thing are better usage of your time. The special features are extremely weak, ranging from outtakes that don’t do a job job of selling the looseness or fun of set or create that contagious warmth about the movie that helps elevate DVD. Additionally, the rest of the special features are really, REALLY not interesting.
Due Date is undercooked as hell.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars