If there is anything that every movie Todd Phillips has ever made has in common that would be insured mass appeal enough to lure you in, it is the inevitable fact that you will laugh. “Due Date” is no different. It’s outrageous. It’s wild. It’s ridiculous. And once again, Phillips manages to turn “repugnant”, like a man and his dog masturbating together or someone’s ashes rushing down your throat as coffee, into “hysterical.” It’s no “The Hangover”, mind you, but it’s only a few bars down from Phillips’ predecessor, and completely on another level. A witty and talented Robert Downey Jr. paired with the ludicrous and naturally comedic Zach Galifianakis is without a doubt the biggest attraction in this movie, as well as one of best forms of chemistry in modern comedy .
Yes, there are lots of those moments in “Due Date” where you won’t be able to help yourself, especially those impromptu events that just happen out of the blue to make you spit your soda out on the back of someone’s head in the theatre if you aren’t careful. This technique was seen as some of the best moments in “The Hangover”, and no doubt, if you liked that, then, “Due Date” will certainly be one of the biggest treats of the year. However, there is one problem with the film (if you consider it a problem): we’ve seen it before, or rather, we’ve seen the formula before, most notably on “Plains, Trains, and Automobiles,” “Midnight Run,” and “Dutch.” The “hilarious road-trip” theme has been recycled quite a bit since those films for the sake of comedy, so much that it’s growing weary. But, it does have its variables.
We have an uptight, angry architect, Peter Highman (Downey) eager to make a plain trip out of Atlanta and back to his home in Los Angeles to see the birth of his first child with his wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan). Then, we have the stupid eccentric, Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) who has a meeting with an agent to be an actor in Hollywood. Incidentally, the two have the same flight to catch and have a dispute outside the airport to get things rolling. The fireworks really go off when the two happen to sit by each other on the plane and argue over the magnitude of turning off all electronics during their flight, only for the argument to end in a stalemate when they get kicked off the plane and put on the “No-Fly” list.
Against all the better judgment in the world and with Peter’s belongings (including his wallet) still on the airplane, the duo is forced to ride together in a rented car. From there, everything goes downhill and for the better of your entertainment. We’ve got drug deals, bratty kids, a fuming ex-veteran, a shady best friend, stoner philosophy time, Ethan’s questionable acting skills, someone’s ashes being kept in a coffee can, hilarious border-patrol encounters, and some of the craziest traffic violations to hit the comedy screen since “Road Trip.”
“Due Date” is a road trip itself that, anyone could predict, is also a male bonding flick. Anyone who has seen “Plains, Trains, and Automobiles” knows what happens when you put two opposing forces in a vehicle for a long period of time. The more they get to know each other, the more emotion they wring from each other, for each other.
“Due Date” is a continuous laughing ride from beginning to end, but mostly due to the chemistry produced by Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. The “hilarious road-trip” theme is growing more tired the more filmmakers keep trying to flesh them out, but these two actors play it right while the theme itself still has its charms.