Due Date

One Plane, No Trains, and Automobiles

         
 

05 November 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

It gets lots of early laughs, but when the characters get abnormally stupid well below the plausible level you quit having faith in the movie. In Due Date, Robert Downey Jr. is a short-fused mean professional who has to share a ride across country with Zach Galifianakis as a doofus with a perm, a lot of memory problems, and an absolutely certain passive aggressive disorder. These two actors are seasoned veterans with these archetypes yet here they take it to an obstinate fault. Downey, as Peter Highman, is a stuck up white collar type who makes a very forced and unbelievable transition to tolerance (he needs the ride so he can return home in time for his wife’s delivery of their first child). Is this a comedy about letting people violate your personal space? ’Cuz Galifianakis, as wannabe actor Ethan Tremblay, is the violating annoying guy.

Flick is bound to get systematic negative reviews by critics who decisively hate mean-spirited characters and mindless boobs, and yet in this case, they might have a point. But beware the critic who declares this Todd Phillips comedy (he directed “The Hangover”) as a nadir in bad taste and coarseness. It’s not that bad in those terms. And while the movie’s insistence on the clash between normal fellows and schmucks may get annoying to some viewers, it’s never that boring.

The creative and witty writing in the first act pits the two leads on an airplane before they are discharged by TSA agents for being deemed a threat (don’t say the words “bomb” and “terrorist” so nonchalantly), and become prohibited from commercial flying in the rest of the state of Georgia. Peter loses his wallet with money and credit cards, and as a matter of convenience, joins his early nemesis Ethan in his rental car along with his deceased father’s ashes in a coffee can. In no time, they are having waffles together at a rest stop even though Ethan is allergic. “Don’t go to a waffle house then if you are allergic to waffles!”

They make a second stop at Heidi’s (Juliette Lewis), an unlicensed medical supplier who provides Ethan with marijuana to treat his glaucoma. Uh huh. If this isn’t a reason for impatient Peter to shake his head then the fact that Ethan spends $200 on grass is certainly a reason for Peter to get upset. That’s a major chunk of the gas money. On the next stop, Peter has to have his wife (Michelle Monaghan) wire money to them at a Western Union that leads to a fiasco brawl with a paraplegic played by Danny McBride. In another scene, Ethan has a crude masturbation episode while he thinks Peter is asleep, and his French bulldog gets in on it, too.

That’s the pattern of the movie, though, one obstruction episode after another that keeps Peter away from arriving home on time, plus the hassle of a memoriam stop to scatter dad’s ashes. There are highway hi-jinks, maybe two of them, not to mention a stop at the Mexico border. Some of the dialogue is funny. Such as when we find out that Ethan wanted to be an actor because of “Two and a Half Men.” Jamie Foxx plays a friend in Dallas who lectures the exasperated Peter on altruism. And Ethan’s inability for improv actors monologues are so pitiable that it’s easy to snicker at him, too. But it is Peter who suffers martyrdom. “Do I look okay? I have a broken arm. I have three cracked ribs. I have seven stitches in my armpit. Does that answer your question?”

The finale is awkwardly patched together but blessedly it sticks away from delivery room schmaltz, although Ethan’s subsequent play at sanctimony can make you want to scratch your eyes out. A half hour after you walk out you might forget most of what you just saw, but you might remember “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987) years after, which this movie carbon copies. I would rather have watched “Due Date” in the due future from my bed, after midnight and after some beer on some dubious weekend night.

95 Minutes. Rated R.

COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / WEEKEND SLACKER MOVIE

Film Cousins: “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987); “Dumb and Dumber” (1994); “The Pest” (1997); “Corky Romano” (2001).

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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