November 6, 2010
Review - " Due Date " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Todd Phillips
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Zach galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan,
Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx
A Planes Trains and Automobiles type movie with Robert Downey Jr.
and Zach galifianakis.
Director Todd Phillips has been helming mainstream comedies for the
past decade or so, but he rose to new heights with the unexpected
mega-success of The Hangover. Phillips returns to the big screen with
Due Date, a considerably more modest affair that’s both darker and
sweeter than its predecessor.
Sometimes, a film can have all the right ingredients: A proven, smart
director, two immensely likeable stars, and a tried and true premise.
And sometimes, even with all those ingredients, a film can rub you the
wrong way or just fail. Unfortunately, “Due Date” is a perfect example
Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis star as two men forced to
drive across the country together after a misunderstanding on a plane
lands them on the no-fly list. However, time is short, because Peter’s
(Robert Downey Jr.) first child is being born in a matter of days. The
set-up is bound to draw comparisons to the John Hughes classic
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” but where that film was heartfelt
and warm in its humor, “Due Date” is obnoxious and annoying.
Almost every negative aspect to the film can be tied back to the screenplay, which is frustratingly inconsistent. It’s dark, but
never enough to be taken seriously, and it never quite reaches the heights it’s aiming for in that respect. It’s got a handful of
funny jokes, but that’s because of the sheer, irrepressible likability of its stars. Unfortunately, this about all the film has going
for it. Its characters are empty vehicles, going wherever the lazy, obvious jokes demand they must. They don’t behave like
real people, even though the film desperately wants us to take them and their arcs seriously.
Downey Jr. manages to come out mostly unscathed thanks to a few great moments, especially a late-night conversation at a
rest stop that actually manages to be legitimately sweet. It feels like a scene out of a smarter, funnier film. Galifianakis, on the
other hand, after his already-iconic role in last year’s “The Hangover”, is ridiculous here, less a character than a collection of
eccentricities and quirks played for laughs. It’s as if someone took his character from “The Hangover” and told him to be
even weirder, but lose everything that made that character stand out in the first place. The results are almost depressing in
“Due Date” should have been a much funnier
film, and on paper, it sounds like a surefire
winner. However, an insurmountably weak
script undoes the entire thing, despite the
best efforts of its stars. I’ve spent most of this
review talking about Due Date’s problems, but
it really isn’t that bad. The actors do valiant
work despite the problems with the script,
and there are a number of genuine laughs
scattered throughout. Cameo appearances
by Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx
and RZA hit just the right notes, and there are
a handful of sublime self-contained moments.
Unfortunately, Due Date adds up to less than
the sum of its parts. It’s an interesting misfire.