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Due Date Overpromises, Underdelivers

Due Date

Image by WorthingTheatres via Flickr

Todd Phillips is back with a new road trip comedy starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. Along the way, the pair encounters all sorts of wackiness including car crashes, fist fights, a stolen federale car, and a rush to get back before the big day.

Sound familiar?

That’s probably because you saw it last summer when it was called “The Hangover,” and it was funny.

Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) is an uptight architect trying to get home to Los Angeles before his very pregnant wife goes into labor. At the airport, Peter has the misfortune of sitting next to aspiring actor Ethan Trembly (Galifianakis). When the two get into a minor argument over whether or not Peter is a terrorist because he won’t turn off his cell phone the pair are kicked off the flight and put on the No Fly List.

At the car rental agency Peter realizes that he left his wallet, along with his credit cards and ID, on the plane. Peter if forced to accept an offer from Trembly to ride with him and his French Bulldog Sonny. Chaos ensues on the open road and the total opposites find themselves forming a friendship while experiencing some unimaginable and improbable situations.

On paper, this movie had everything going for it. First off, it’s a road movie, which are always fun. Then you have Todd Phillips directing, who has proven himself with previous hits “Old School,” “Starsky and Hutch,” and “The Hangover.” There’s Robert Downey Jr. starring, who can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned, and Zach Galifianakis, who is always good for a few awkward moments and uncomfortable laughs. Plus, there are cameos from Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, and Danny McBride.

I don’t know what went wrong. This is definitely a movie where the whole does not equal the sum of its parts.

Perhaps Phillips was trying too hard to recreate the absurd moments from “The Hangover.” The problem with that is that those implausible events, in the context of Las Vegas, seem entirely possible. They kidnapped a naked Chinese man and forgot they put him in the trunk of their car? Okay, I buy that, it’s Vegas Baby!

But here, they end up at a Mexican border crossing because they mistake the “Mexico” sign for a “Texaco” sign? Really? They’re on their way from Atlanta to LA and just left Dallas, how did they get to the border?

The cast does a terrific job with an unfunny, mediocre script. Downey Jr. is brilliant, as usual, and almost makes you forget you’re watching a total piece of crap. He has great comedic timing and gives his Type-A Peter heart so you don’t care that he’s a total jerk and spits in Sonny’s face. (Yes, he spits in the dogs face and I still love him.) Galifianakis is strong as a foil to Peter’s perfect life of structure and order. He’s zany and over-the-top, in a way that I’m not tired of quite yet.

All in all, “Due Date” has a couple of funny moments, but not enough. With its cast and credentials, this movie should have been a lot better. It should have been a lot funnier; it just wasn’t.

Great Road Trip Movies

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  1. Pingback: The Commuter: Vol. 42 « Art in the Rye Design - June 18, 2011

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