“DUE DATE” (Robert Downey, Jr. & Zach Galifianakis)
There are almost enough funny lines and sight gags in “Due Date” to make up for what is wrong with it. . . I said ‘almost’.
Robert Downey, Jr.’s character, Peter, is such a despicable human being that anyone who likes or relates to him obviously has acute character flaws. So ‘Due Date’ is a great date movie if you’re going out with a guy you’re just not sure about. It’s okay to say, ‘that movie was pretty funny’, but if they say Peter’s behavior was acceptable – dump him, he’s a turd.
I’ve read two reviews that go on & on about how tired they already are of Zach Galifianakis. I didn’t have a problem with Ethan (Zach’s character, a wanna-be ‘Hollywood’ actor) he was annoying, but had a good heart. Peter, if you’ll pardon the expression, was a dick.
Unfortunate comparisons must be made to two comedy classics; “The Hangover” & “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” because this film was co-written & directed by Todd Phillips (of ‘Hangover’ fame) & the premise is – It’s Tuesday and Peter is in Atlanta. His very pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) is in L.A.; her ‘due date’ is Friday. Even though Peter is boarding a plane on Tuesday to take him back to L.A., the expectant mother calls him, worried that he won’t make it home on time. A series of screwy, unexpected events leads to Peter being forced to drive across southern America with an effeminate, would-be actor (Ethan Tremblay) along with his masturbating French Bulldog, Sonny, and a coffee can containing the ashes of Ethan’s recently deceased father. So it is virtually a ‘remake’ of ‘P, T & A’ (A good looking businessman needing to get home to his attractive wife by a certain day & an overweight, over-bearing but likeable misfit who carries the burden of a recently deceased loved one – Ethan even secretly uses Peter’s credit card to pay for the used car they drive in the beginning of the journey)
‘Hangover’ was great because it was not only hilarious, it was also a mystery; what on earth happened to Doug? The only mystery in ‘Due Date’ is; will Peter ever stop being such a turd?
In ‘P, T & A’, one of the many funny bits is how the pair of traveling companions gradually destroy the used car they’re driving; In ‘D D’ the car is fine until a horrendous, unquestionably fatal crash totals the rental in the blink of an eye (or 40 winks, as the case may be) With Sonny (the dog) sitting on the back seat, Ethan falls asleep at the wheel; when they land, the back of the car is completely demolished so naturally we reach the conclusion that the little mutt that enjoys pleasuring himself has been crushed to death. As far as the humans go, it would be highly unlikely that both would survive. But no, we forget that this is a ‘comedy’ so the gratuitous crash scene was simply added to enhance the premise by putting another obstacle in the trio’s path.
At times the humor sinks to ‘dumbed down’ levels as well – Not to say that there was anything ‘high brow’ about ‘The Hangover’, but the way it was set up worked to perfection. Here, when wheelchair bound Danny McBride beats ‘customer’ Peter with a club, we’re suppose to find that humorous?
Where this film goes wrong is easily traceable to Peter – not Robert Downing, Jr. – Peter.
He has a quick temper which, when it flares, is downright abusive. Being a dog lover, I was appalled when he gathers up a wad of mucus and spits in Sonny’s face while the ‘injured’ pup is wearing an Elizabethan collar (after the near death experience in the rental car) Peter is mean. Peter seems to live for moments when he can lash out & hurt someone in any way he can. He goes off on a shouting rant at Ethan for saying he wants to go to ‘Hollywood’; “Nobody calls it Hollywood! It’s freaking L.A.!” Peter, as I concluded early on in this film & review, is a dick. So anything bad that happens to Peter is well deserved and thus the humor takes a backseat to our dislike of the lead character. Knowing his hair trigger temper explodes in violent outbursts I worried about the safety of his wife & child when they finally reach their destination. If you view this film & you feel all warm & gooey over Peter’s determination to be there to witness the birth of his first child – think about what an ass he has been to Ethan & Sonny – How could anyone want this turd to have a happy ending? If he had redeemed himself at the closing by saying he’s decided to go to anger management class, I’d still wonder about his sincerity. Phillips goes the route of ‘we’ll make him likeable by injuring him severely’ . . . Doesn’t work, Todd – I’m in my 50’s now & I’ve been saying this for over 30 years because it has always rung true – Once a dick, always a dick.
But it DID make me laugh frequently... weird, huh?