Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Due Date" (2010)

Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis
Written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel and Todd Phillips
Directed by Todd Phillips
Rated R - Language, drug use, violence
Running Time: 95 Minutes

While I thought the repetitive, mean-spirited "Hangover, Part II" wasn't much to write home about, I quite enjoyed "Due Date," made by many of the people behind "The Hangover," including director Todd Phillips and star Zach Galifianakis.

Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) is an architect trying to get home to see his wife, who is about to deliver their first child via C-section.  Unfortunately, that plan is thrown out of whack when Peter meets one Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) and the two accidentally switch bags at the airport entrance.  First, Peter is delayed and Ethan's bag confiscated when security discovers drug paraphernalia in it.  Worse, Ethan eventually causes both of them to be put off their plane just before takeoff, and their names placed on the No-Fly List.

Soon after, Peter discovers that his luggage took off with the flight, including his wallet, ID, money and credit cards.  Without any money or ID, he can't rent a car.  Fortunately, Ethan was able to rent one, and offers to take Peter with him on his cross-country journey to Los Angeles to become an actor on "Two and a Half Men."

But can Peter put up with Ethan's strange ways and ideas long enough to stick with him and get to the birth of his child on time?

Not quite the instant quotable classic that "The Hangover" ended up being, "Due Date" is still pretty damn funny.  The conflicts between Peter and Ethan escalate nicely over the course of the film as they get into one weird scrape after another.  Along for the ride is Ethan's dog, Sonny, and the two meet a few colorful characters along the way, including Jamie Foxx as an old boyfriend of Peter's wife, Juliette Lewis as a drug dealer and mother of two total brats and some Mexican border agents. 

"Due Date" reminds me mostly of the old Steve Martin/John Candy movie, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."  Two mismatched personalities trying to make their way across a great distance who have a variety of small, absurd adventures.  Here, Robert Downey Jr. takes on the uptight Steve Martin role, while Galifianakis is the weirdo John Candy character. 

I haven't seen that film in a long time, but I don't recall it being a dirty, raunchy comedy like "Due Date."  This film is loaded with foul language, jokes about hicks, veterans, masturbating dogs, drugs, adultery and more.  Downey does a great job belittling Galifianakis, who is equally capable of shrugging off even the most vicious comment.  The two characters are pretty well designed around the actors, however; if you've seen any of Robert Downey Jr.'s recent films like "Iron Man" or "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," you've seen him doing what he's doing here.  Similarly, Galifianakis' Ethan character is only slightly different from his role as Alan in "The Hangover," though without the more douchebaggy aspects of the sequel. 

Still, a lack of originality is really the worst sin "Due Date" commits.  It's a fun, funny road trip comedy with a number of talented performers who may not be stretching their limits, but are definitely at the top of their game. 

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