I have to start by saying that Due Date isn’t an altogether bad movie. For the right circumstance and crowd, there is an entertaining evening to be had here. I have to start with that, because by and large the movie did little beyond irritating me, but perhaps for a less than obvious reason.
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) thinks he’s about to continue on the merry-ish, but hectic, road that is his life. He’s on his way to the airport, which isn’t anything but the normal routine for him, except that this time he’s on his way home, because his wife is having a baby in a few days.
He is, we are meant to assume, a pretty savvy, professional fellow, and few things are really going to throw him. Although, his tolerance for irritation might be in question. Unfortunately, he’s a bout to meet Ethan Tremblay/Chase (Zach Galifianakis), and nothing prepares you for that.
After a quick meeting curbside, in which bags get exchanged in the confusion, the pair meet up again on the plane, and in the space of barely a few minutes, Ethan manages to get Peter shot by a Federal Air Marshall, put on the “No Fly” list, and generally stuck in an almost surreal set of circumstances that leave him unable to get home. Ethan finds him in the parking lot, where we learn Peter can’t even rent a car, because he lost his wallet somehow during the airplane kerfuffle, and Ethan offers to drive him. They’re both going to L.A., Robert has few options, so why not?
The movie quickly delivers Ethan as something close to the world’s most annoying and least clever person, and we’ll see this road trip devolve into exactly the sort of misadventure we expect. Sure, we’ll learn that Ethan’s father recently died, which will be stood up at several points as a kind of emotional tether, but there isn’t really any time for much of anything apart from the screwball antics we all know we’re in store for.
A few moments hint at stronger comedic sensibilities, like when the pair have money wired to Ethan, because he’s the only one with ID, but he tells Peter’s wife to make the money payable to Ethan Tremblay, his stage name, thus negating his having ID, but mostly we’re concerned with getting high, some high-speed car chases, and the trivial efforts at humor you know are coming when you see that Zach has his father’s ashes in a coffee can. It’s that sort of movie, with most of the best moments in the trailer, and most of its entertainment value at the mercy of what you’re drinking at the time.
All that said, it’s harmless enough, and has a few decent moments, even if the masturbating (both on screen and by virtue of the fact that anything is on the screen) is unnecessary.
What gets me about the film is the constant nagging it forced on my mind about what might have been. The movie is basically the progression of an Abott and Costello vehicle crossed with a Road movie, and taken into the 21st century, with a bunch of pot and social misfit metaphor thrown in.
Put into that Robert Downey Jr., who is not only great, but pretty well at the top of his game, and Zach, who actually can be amazingly funny, and the two of them bring tons of potential to this.
As I sat through this nearly-average, quick-check throwaway that is such a staple of our theatrical diet these days, I kept imagining if we had these two actors, with the same general theory, back in about the mid-70s. Back in those days, not that there weren’t nonsense misfires then, we wouldn’t have wasted either of these actors hoping that some drunk fratboys would laugh at a dog jacking off.
I imagine we’d have had something that we’d still be watching, not least because the nuances of actual effort were able to be appreciated through dozens of viewings. Instead, we knock out a little piece of mostly ludicrous babble for X million, knowing full well that we’ll probably manage 1.5X million at least, and making money is making money.
Now you know why I opened the way I did, because it isn’t quite as bad as you may think it is after reading that, but it’s close.
The bonus features available mirror the effort and purpose of the film, giving you a few additional scenes, an action-scene mash-up, a “too many questions” mash-up, and a gag reel. Apart from that, there is the complete scene from Two And A Half Men with Ethan Tremblay which is given to you in bits during the film. There are a few laughs, but even adding it all up, this is a least effort collection of bonuses, although frankly, if you had enough of them you probably wouldn’t need the film itself.
Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download! http://bit.ly/DueDateFB
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From The Hangover director Todd Phillips, Due Date throws two unlikely companions together on a road trip that turns out to be as life-changing as it is outrageous. Expectant first-time father Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) looks forward to his new child’s due date five days away. As Peter hurries to catch a flight home from Atlanta to be at his wife’s side for the birth, his best intentions go completely awry when an encounter with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) forces Peter to hitch a ride with Ethan on a cross-country trip that will ultimately destroy several cars, many friendships and Peter’s last nerve.http://duedatemovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/