Friday, November 5, 2010

Due Date Movie Review

Title: Due Date

Directed by: Todd Phillips (The Hangover, The Hangover 2)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man 2, Sherlock Holmes, Tropic Thunder), Zach Galifianakis (Puss in Boots, Dinner for Schmucks), Juliette Lewis (Different Kind of Love, The Darwin Awards, Whip It), Michelle Monaghan (Machine Gun Preacher), Danny McBride (Land of the Lost) and Jamie Foxx (Kane & Lync, The Soloist)

Movies that don’t make their audiences think often times fall short on plot, premise, laughs and chemistry. While ‘Due Date’s simplistic plot-line was basically revealed in its theatrical trailers, it stands out from many other comedies released today, as it still delivers its promised light-hearted laughs. Plus, it has the added benefit of featuring well-liked and respected actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx and Juliette Lewis, who get along so well on-screen that they can easily pass as friends in real life.

‘Due Date’ stands out from other comedies as it follows architect Peter Highman (played by Downey), who is in Atlanta on business. He’s trying to get home to Los Angeles on time for the birth of his first child. However, he gets kicked off his plane after accidentally switching bags with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (portrayed by comedic road-trip movie king Galifianakis) at the curb-side check in counter. Drug paraphernalia is found in Ethan’s bag, causing Peter to be put on the no-fly list.

While all of Peter’s luggage is still on the plane, he is still unwillingly forced to drive cross-country with Ethan. The new acquaints have multiple crazy encounters together, including being questioned by border patrol for allegedly smoking marijuana and flipping their rental car over a bridge after Ethan falls asleep at the wheel. While Peter despises Ethan at first for getting him into their crazy situation, he eventually grows to tolerate, and even somewhat like, his goof-ball but well-meaning travel companion.

While screenwriters lan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland and Adam Sztykiel focus ‘Due Date’s story more on the multiple adventures that Peter and Ethan get into than on one cohesive conflict, or on developing the characters themselves, Downey and Galifianakis still had great chemistry together. Downey, who was once one of the bad boys of Hollywood, perfected Peter’s desire to get home to his wife Sarah (played by Michelle Monaghan in a minor role) in time for her scheduled C-section.

While Peter didn’t want to put up with Ethan’s free spirited ways, as he was just delaying his trip back to Sarah, he still had enough of a conscience not to just leave him behind. Downey didn’t portray Peter as being arrogant or feeling superior to Ethan, even though he was the one who got them on the no fly list in the first place.

Galifianakis also relived his glory days of last year’s hit comedy ‘The Hangover,’ the movie that made him famous. While Ethan is like Galifianakis’ ‘Hangover’ character Alan Garner, as they are both the goofy characters that cause several mishaps on road trips, the actor didn’t just recycle his break-out role. While Alan was just the guy that audiences felt bad for, Ethan was the character that really created most of the laughs in ‘Due Date.’ Ethan just wanted a friend in Peter, but his actions, while well-intentioned, often provided more mischief. Galifianakis definitely made Ethan likeable and relatable, as he didn’t always realize his actions bothered the people around him.

In ‘Due Date,’ Galifianakis definitely made up for his role as Bobby in his previous movie, last month’s dramedy ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story.’ That movie flopped at the box office, not even making it’s entire budget back during its limited theatrical release, in part because the actor’s fans aren’t accustomed to seeing him taking on such serious subjects. Galifianakis should definitely stick to comedy, as he rightfully first garnered mainstream attention for being a stand-up comedian.

‘Due Date’s director Todd Phillips, who also helmed the hits ‘Old School’ and ‘Road Trip,’ and directed Galifianakis in ‘The Hangover,’ surely has another hit on his hands. While most directors don’t like being typed-cast, he definitely made the right decision to take on another comedy about free-spirited, care-free guy friends who decide to take a journey together. While Downey probably won’t win another Golden Globe next year for ‘Due Date,’ like he did this year for ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ Phillips made the right decision to cast the respected actor alongside the popular up-and-coming Galifianakis.

Written by: Karen Benardello

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