Obviously inspired by the John Hughes classic, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Due Date does not strike quite the same note. The Todd Phillips follow-up to the Hangover has quite a few hilarious moments, and both of the lead performances are spot-on with what the script wanted from them. Zach Galifianakis, as the obnoxious Ethan Tremblay, works well as Galifianakis’ comedic approach is still novel. Robert Downey Jr, as the high-strung Peter Highman, is fitting opposite to Galifianakis.
Both actors make an all-star duo, and to top it off, there are a couple of surprise cameos that draw further laughs. Phillips is in his comfortable “road-trip” movie mode, and attacks the audience on all fronts, from toilet humor, to sharply delivered quips, and a few scenes of entertainingly offensive comedy. The comedy works, and much of the dialogue is highly quotable, pleasing Phillips fans and perhaps gaining new ones.
What Due Date does have, which is vacant from the Hangover, is emotional depth that surprisingly works in the midst of all the laughs. The relationship between Peter and Ethan is relative and feels genuine. Like the film that inspired it, the interaction of these two characters makes us realize how unsympathetic we are; however, it also shows us how we are always capable of redeeming ourselves.
Overall, the film works fine, but is dragged down by a roughly equal amount of weight that keeps it from flying to the realms of satisfaction. In addition, there’s some difficulty in being the film to follow up the highest grossing Comedy flick of all-time.
Connection. The audience doesn’t really have anybody to fully connect to. Peter Highman is too much of a prick, albeit a funny prick, that it becomes difficult to sympathize with his situation. Ethan Tremblay provides some kind of outlet to connect, but only for minuscule moments.
Story. This is a road-trip film, and I suppose you can write off the story and say that whatever happens is what’s going to happen. The events in Due Date seemed to be checked off a list of “things to do in a road-trip film.” There could have been more creative plot-turns, and there was potential for it, but those hay-maker punches were held back to throw a safe jab.
Chemistry. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis work well together when they are in conflict, but their transition into being friends seems a tad bit contrived. The moments they have together that’s supposed to bring them closer feel artificial at times, and this is not necessarily because of the actors performances.
This had a lot of potential to become a better-than-average comedy, but it just ended up being decent at best. We’ve seen this type of film before, and we’ve seen it done better. Hell, we’ve seen it done better by the same director.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
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