"Due Date" Movie Review (2010)

11/06/2010 Posted by Admin

"Due Date"

Movie Review

Directed by Todd Phillips, Written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel and Todd Phillips, rated R, 100-minutes.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Some "Star Trek" fans live under the belief that only the even-numbered sequels are worth watching. Todd Phillips is showing signs of a similar problem. For every "Old School," we get a "Starsky and Hutch." And now, for every "The Hangover," we get a "Due Date," a film that takes a great cast and a simple premise and renders them entirely unfunny.

"Due Date" is a road comedy in the vein of John Hughes’s "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." An uptight professional, Peter (Robert Downey Jr.), is on his way to Los Angeles for his child’s birth – only problem is that he was kicked off the plane for reacting to a somewhat psychotic passenger named Ethan (Zach Galifianakis) and put on a no-fly list.

Now, with his belongings aboard the plane to Los Angeles and no way of paying for a car, Peter accepts a ride from Ethan, who is headed to Hollywood to be on "Two and a Half Men."

Both Downey and Galifianakis do a great job with their respective roles. Robert Downey Jr.’s Peter emits the sound reasoning and short temper of a classic straight-man, while Galifianakis once again nails the delusional man-child that made him famous. However, unlike his role in "The Hangover," he plays the role with far more heart.

The heart imbued by Galifianakis is so resonant, it shows the film at its best. Even the shrewd Peter feels sorry for him.  As for Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, he’s both cold and vulnerable in the right places.

Where the film falters is in its inability to deliver the laughs. Most of the film’s humor simply comes off as obvious or illogical, especially regarding Ethan’s “glaucoma medicine.” Philips relies heavily on Galifianakis in the regard--too much so.  In "Due Date," it’s clear he wanted to devote 90-minutes to "The Hangover" star without understanding the balance of his better films.

Philips’s pattern of inconsistency depends on the size of his cast. "The Hangover" and "Old School" display a three-character system--the downtrodden, the narcissistic, the insane. Conversely, "Due Date" puts its two characters in extreme situations, but without the added buffer between angry and oblivious, their interactions retire without a chuckle.

Philips tries to compensate that lack of that buffer through a series of cameos that are as crazy as Ethan.  Trouble is, they never fill the void.  When even Danny McBride can’t elevate the material, you know there must be something wrong.

Without this balance, "Due Date" grows really unfunny really fast. Its leads are solid and Todd Phillips shows some real heart and dimension in his character work, but this is being billed as a comedy, and the comedy rarely is there.

Grade: C

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