Due Date is a road trip movie mixed with The Odd Couple. Using the classic comedy device of throwing two people together, whose personalities are so different, it’s a miracle they don’t kill each other, and then letting the chaos ensue. Directed by Todd Phillips, made legendary in the comedy world after hits like Old School and The Hangover, this film has a ton of laugh-out-loud moments and good pacing, but character likeability is an issue that comes dangerously close to distracting from the funny. More after the jump:
The plot of Due Date centers around a father-to-be, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.), who is trying to get home to his wife before their baby’s due date, only to be stuck in Atlanta after an unfortunate run-in on the plane with an aspiring and dim-witted actor, Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis). Peter, now without a wallet, has no way to get home to his wife, unless he hitches a ride with his new least favorite person on the planet. And thus their adventure begins, following these two misfits to a drug dealer in Birmingham, the Mexican border, and the Grand Canyon with some really great moments in between.
This is a very funny film. I laughed out loud several times, but while I was watching something slowly dawned on me… It’s really hard to get on board with these characters because they are both a little unlikable. Peter is supposed to be the dick of the pair with anger management issues who has the bigger arc in the film, which by the end he does. Ethan is supposed to be the loveable nincompoop who is well intentioned, but sometimes too dull to know he’s being offensive, pretty much Zach Galifianakis’ character in The Hangover. The difference is that in The Hangover, no matter how dumb his actions or the words that came out of his mouth were, you felt sorry for him and knew he was just lonely and didn’t know how to be “one of the boys.” In Due Date, he’s mourning the loss of his father and just wants a friend, which makes him sympathetic, until he does things that are edging towards too annoying and unrealistic. For example, there’s a scene where Peter tells Ethan about how his father ran out on him as a kid and that it really crushed him, Ethan then bursts into laughter and says, “My father would never do that. He loved me.” This is a moment in the film where if Ethan had said something offensive, but well-intentioned I would have been onboard, but instead he says something that is so blatantly wrong for the situation it makes it very hard to like him. I could forgive all other moments of annoyance as part of his character and still root for him, if they had handled this one scene differently. I know it sounds nit-picky to let one scene affect my view of his character, but it was a poor choice.
Other than that one scene that bugs the crap out of me, the movie is a lot of fun. It’s not as quotable as The Hangover and won’t go on anyone’s top 10 list for the year, but it still has its merits. Galifianakis and Downey Jr. are both hilarious and really play well off of each other. Downey Jr. proves to be the ultimate straight man to Galifianakis’ ridiculousness and there are fun cameos by Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis, and the director himself in a scene where Ethan re-enacts a scene from The Godfather. Todd Phillips also further proves his ability to handle action sequences with some pretty insane car crashes, all of which would have realistically killed our two heroes, but who cares? I say suspend your disbelief and watch the wreckage with glee. One of my favorite scenes is when Ethan breaks Peter out of Mexican Police custody, leading to a very epic crash. Luckily, even with a few unlikable choices, both Galifianakis and Downey Jr. are too damn charming and fun to watch, so you’re more forgiving and willing to go along for the trip. It won’t go down in history, but it was definitely a fun ride and a good appetizer before the main course of The Hangover 2!
Complete Two and a Half Men scene- an extended version of the scene when Ethan books a job on his favorite TV show.
Additional Scenes- Three extended scenes, some more talking about Two and a Half Men and Peter trying to kiss Ethan in celebration that goes on a bit too long
Due Date Action Mash-Up- 40 seconds of slapstick and car crashes
Due Date Too Many Questions- 40 seconds of Ethan’s incessant and hilarious questions
Gag Reel- a 6-minute gag reel. I’m a sucker for gag reels and this one is no exception. Lots of line flubs and crack-ups