Reviews

Due Date

4

Robert and Zach hit the road...

Due Date review

An uptight thin bloke and a messy fat bloke travel across America, encountering an array of disasters on their way back to see thin bloke’s wife.

John Hughes’ 1987 comedy Planes, Trains And Automobiles was a blend of bromance, odd-couple comedy and road movie, a warm, smart star vehicle juggling gross-out gags with slapstick, rapid-fire scripting with sweetness and poignancy…

So too Due Date. Todd Phillips’ latest cleaves close to Hughes’ template, from stolen wallets to obstructive desk clerks, car mishaps to awkward sleeping arrangements. Swap Steve Martin for Robert Downey Jr, John Candy for Zach Galifianakis, a dead wife for a dead dad and Thanksgiving for an imminent birth and you’re there. Not huge on originality, then.

Yet Due Date is a sparkling spin around the old block, boasting ace leads, eye-snagging cameos, spit-your-popcorn laughs and a more marked tenderness than Phillips’ all-conquering mega-hit, The Hangover.

Curves ahead

Downey Jr plays Peter Highman, an uptight architect with a bad temper travelling back from Atlanta to wife Christine (Michelle Monaghan) in LA for the arrival of his first sprog.

But the airport brings a meet-cute (mate-cute?) with hairy nightmare Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), a saucer-eyed nincompoop with a ‘photogenic memory’ who is heading to Hollywood to become an actor.

Ethan’s inspiration? The second series of Two And A Half Men. He knocks the door off Peter’s cab, pinches his bag, gets him tasered and lands them both on the ‘no-fly’ list.

With no luggage, money or ID, Peter is forced to accept Ethan’s offer to share his hire car in a long, painful journey cross country. Due Date follows a formula map, but it’s also prone to going off piste.

Phillips loves to blindside, whether it’s with broken taboos (The Hangover’s ‘wanking baby’ gets a worthy sequel here), bizarre asides or precision slapstick (Ethan trapped under the car door – more amusing than it sounds).

Jumps, shocks, surprises, u-turns (physical and emotional) come full-steam at the audience. These curveballs fly with less force in a short second-half dip, where the endless disasters threaten to run dry of invention: a misadventure at the Mexican border feels like excess baggage.

But make no mistake: Due Date is very, very funny. It’s not content with just being a gag machine, either. Emboldened by The Hangover’s success, Phillips extends his aim, reaching for hitherto unexplored depths of poignancy.

Proving that he can turn tone on a dime, the director pulls tear-tugging moments out of thin air.

In one scene, an impromptu ‘acting lesson’ brings choking memories of personal loss to the surface. In another, a quiet goodbye slides from absurdist to affecting, with Neil Young deployed on the soundtrack at the perfect moment.

Bromantic tension

Character development, though, is uneven. Where Peter seems like he’s gained wisdom at the finish line, Ethan never gains any such self awareness. He has no real arc, remaining as blindly optimistic and clueless as we find him at the start.

And though the coda suggests his stoned naivety has in some sense paid off, it’s not a wholly satisfying wrap-up.

The last third cries out for an equivalent to John Candy’s “You wanna hurt me?” outburst in PTAA; without it, our bromance doesn’t feel quite consummated and Ethan could be judged a caricature.

A vivid caricature mind you, not to be forgotten in any kind of hurry. Galifianakis never misses a beat or overplays, whether blithely indulging his favourite nocturnal activity in front of Downey Jr or putting a subtle mince in his step (his sexuality remains shadowy throughout).

Matching his Hangover man-child chuckle for chuckle, kink for kink, you could argue that Due Date is Galifianakis’ show. But Downey Jr is hardly reduced to wingman here, hooking attention from the off with some wistful pillow talk. A twitchy, snappy portrait of expectant fatherhood, he’s Tony Stark at the end of his tether.

But it’s a measure of RDJ’s atomic magnetism that when he lashes out in two of the film’s most outrageous gambits, audiences will forgive him instantly – and sunder their sides doing so.

Garnishing the leads’ bickering chemistry is a rich spree of bit-parts: Jamie Foxx playing straight and smooth as Downey Jr’s buddy, Danny McBride’s not-to-bemessed- with war vet and Todd Phillips himself, dropping by as boyfriend to Juliette Lewis’ spaced-out ‘pharmacist’.

Phillips the actor acquits himself fine; Phillips the director follows up the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time with confidence and purpose.

Getting to grips with birth and death, it’s his most mature movie to date, without growing out of the infantile kicks that have defined his previous work.

Sharp, touching and hilarious: somewhere, the ghost of John Hughes is grinning.

Verdict:

Painfully funny, perfectly cast, Due Date is one of the finest comedies of the year. Todd Phillips’ verve drives the odd-couple-bromanceroad- movie to a bright new destination.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • aliceISalive

      Nov 2nd 2010, 20:51

      5

      funny as f*** the hangover 2.0

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    • feevee

      Nov 3rd 2010, 10:59

      4

      Never a dull moment!! Definitely recommend!!

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    • mooseblaster

      Nov 3rd 2010, 11:52

      3

      One of those movies where if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the whole movie - there is very little to surprise you out of the bits that are left. However, it's a pretty safe bet in terms of enjoyment value. It's not got the sheer madcap nature of The Hangover (so some fans may be disappointed), and 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' leaves it far behind in terms of set pieces set in this plot. Overall, not a bad movie in any sense of the word, but lacks the brilliance of it's forefathers.

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    • WOOKIEDOG007

      Nov 3rd 2010, 11:58

      4

      Hilarious film, The entire 90 minutes consisted of either laughing out loud or holding my breath not being able to believe how the story was unfolding! Definately as good as the hangover -if not a tiny bit better! Would thoroughly recommend it!

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    • SneekyChalker

      Nov 3rd 2010, 12:14

      3

      If you read The News of the World, spend all day checking Facebook and watch X-Factor then this is the film for you.

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    • francismc

      Nov 3rd 2010, 12:47

      4

      Good movie, easy watching

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    • Dave123

      Nov 3rd 2010, 15:39

      5

      I really did enjoy this film, it was so much better than the poster portrays. I would be happy to see this again. I would certainly say to anyone that wants to have a laugh to go and see this one. It actually had me laughing out loud on a number of occaisions, and for me to do that something has to be really funny. All I can say is go and see it, I doubt that you will be dissapointed.

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    • jcarr07

      Nov 3rd 2010, 15:51

      3

      Due Date's update on Planes, Trains and Automobiles keeps the laughs escalating even if, overall, it's arguably mildly disappointing considering the pedigree of talent involved. It'll certainly Due (sic) in lieu of Hangover 2 though.

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    • durnan01

      Nov 3rd 2010, 15:57

      2

      Thought it was a comedy very few laughs .

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    • jabam

      Nov 3rd 2010, 17:45

      total brill, couldn't stop laughing, give me more

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    • donna

      Nov 3rd 2010, 19:24

      4

      really enjoyed from start to finnish, please tell me they r gonna make a sequel, as it would be so funny to see etan look after a baby, mayb they could go on a family road trip! thanks total film for free tickets again.

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    • tigerlilly

      Nov 3rd 2010, 21:31

      We had a great night of laughs I would say to anyone go and have a laugh you wont be dissapointed 5 star rating

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    • papaah

      Nov 4th 2010, 1:20

      4

      Fun film, with both the humour and the plot going in directions I didn't expect - even if it ended exactly where it was always going to.

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    • kas42

      Nov 4th 2010, 19:50

      3

      Funny in parts. Spoilt if you watch the trailer.

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    • Jrdnsans1792

      Nov 11th 2010, 11:48

      4

      Loved every second of it, funniest film of the year along with Hot Tub Time Machine. Downey Jr is superb as always and Zach Galifianakis was very funny too. Never a dull moment and a vast improvement on the somewhat mediorce The Hangover.

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    • tomfilby330

      Nov 23rd 2010, 13:48

      2

      "Essentially this film is a tribute to 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles', and actor/character stereotyping... Galifianakis exists in a bubble of his own caricature, his ego justifying his on screen spirit. Kind of like Jim Carrey before he developed a sense of shame." Read my full review at http ://ewfbtw.blogspot.com/2010/11/film-due-date.html

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    • kizi2001

      Jan 6th 2011, 21:51

      5

      This film was sooooo funny! Loads of action and comedy you will not be disappointed!

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    • pathanguy

      Jan 18th 2011, 16:46

      that have some positive reviews also so will give some time to it also as I am fond of these things. Tinnitus Treatment

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    • MarthaEv123

      Mar 25th 2011, 10:10

      Beautiful film. Thanks for sharing. treatment for eczema

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    • Legacy3D

      Mar 26th 2011, 17:25

      2

      “Leave your comfort zone”. As the latest Todd Phillips movie (following old school, starsky and hutch and the hangover) takes you on a crazy road trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles with Robert Downey Jr and zach galifianakis. The story follows peter highman (Downey) wanting to fly to Los Angeles to meet his wife and welcome there new son into the family. While in the airport however he meets Ethan tremblay (galifianakis) an actor wishing to make it in Hollywood. But after both are unable to fly they are forced to take a road trip together to get to LA in time, on the way they encounter almost everything that could happen when on a road trip but also get to know each other as friends. After seeing the trailers and galfinakis working once again with Phillips on a comedy, I was expecting something really funny. Sadly the movie is lacking something, it is funny in parts but if you have seen the trailers you know what is going to happen and when there will be a laugh. Another problem the movie has is, the characters don’t seem very believable as galfinakis is doing the same role as in the hangover and Michelle Monaghan (Peter’s wife) don’t have much of a role other than talking on the phone to her husband. Overall due date is nothing special but is good for a laugh if you’re feeling down.

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