Film review – Due Date

Due Date

When Peter Highland (Robert Downey Junior) is thrown off a plane at Atlanta airport, he ends up forced to travel across America to Los Angeles with schlubby Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis). Under an enforced time schedule, his first child due to be delivered by caesarean section, and with no money or ID, he is captive to the capricious and irritating nature of Tremblay, who is heading to LA to become an actor.

First things first, yes, this IS Planes, Trains and Automobiles all over again. Highland is prissy, arrogant and has anger management issues. Tremblay has poor personal hygiene, no filters, and is startlingly stupid. (At one point Highland asks “How have you made it this far without running yourself over in a car”, Tremblay answers “I’ve done that”).

The age difference between the two actors means that as well as a developing friendship, Highland is almost forced into a paternal role at times, while Tremblay mourns the recent death of his father. For the most part though, this is a by the numbers clash of personalities, which adds a mix of violence (Highland is shot twice, beaten up and comes out the worse in a potentially horrific car crash), drug use and moments of gross out humour.

Robert Downey Junior is watchable as ever, he has one particular scene, recalling the last time he saw his father, which is absolutely stunning and belongs to a far better movie than this. Galifianakis manages to make man-child Ethan appalling yet occasionally sympathetic. His tics and mannerisms are enough to enrage anyone, indeed it’s a wonder that Highland doesn’t throw him off the Grand Canyon when he gets a chance.

Michelle Monaghan as Highland’s wife, Sarah, is underused sadly though not surprisingly. Her role is there solely for the momentum behind the cross-country trip, with an added air of potential infidelity with old family friend Jamie Foxx. Juliette Lewis also makes a brief cameo, as drug dealer Heidi, in a scene which also has the best punching of an obnoxious kid since Kevin Smith’s Cop Out.

The film judders from one set piece to the next, the bits with Downey Junior when he isn’t on screen with Galifianakis are all excellent, when they’re on screen together the energy dissipates somewhat. The focus of the film revolves around his reactions to Tremblay, whether irritation, anger or acceptance. The point where they bond is outrageously ludicrous and never truly believable.

The film is in places genuinely laugh out loud funny, and writers Alan R Cohen and Alan Freedland have managed some exceptionally witty one liners However some plot points are telegraphed so loudly that any payoff is diminished and it suffers from poor exposition, terribly obvious outcomes and an over reliance on Galifianakis’ weight, appearance, and vaguely camp mannerisms.

Todd Phillips (The Hangover) hasn’t directed a terrible film here, but neither is it particularly good. One to enjoy perhaps when intoxicated, certainly leave your critical faculties at the door. If you’ve never wanted to see a French bulldog masturbate, this probably isn’t the film for you.

Due Date opens in UK cinemas on 5th November

This was was first posted over at Blogomatic3000 on November 1st

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on November 2, 2010.

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