When director Todd Phillips’ last film, “The Hangover,” was released in the summer of 2009, it absolutely exploded in popularity, making expectations high for his most recent directorial outing, “Due Date.”
Following the basic premise of the 1987 comedy, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” and a myriad of other like-minded road trip adventures, “Due Date” follows the cross-country trek of expectant-father Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) and aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) from Atlanta, Georgia to Los Angeles, California so that Highman can be there for the birth of his child and Tremblay can pursue fame in Hollywood.
The catalyst for this journey involves a rather hilarious mishap on-board an airplay that places both of the travelers on the no-fly list. From there on out the plot of “Due Date” unfolds in a rather predictable fashion, with Atlanta and L.A. serving as bookends and a series of ridiculously outrageous scenarios filling in the blanks and providing the laughs along the way.
That said, the scenarios throughout the film are often very funny and incredibly over-the-top, involving everything from firearms to car crashes, with a fair share of illegal substances for good measure.
While the story is far from first-rate, the acting is definitely commendable. The pairing of Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifianakis is what truly drives the film forward and makes the entire story worthwhile. Neither actor does anything groundbreaking in comparison to their past performances.
In fact, Downey Jr. essentially just plays Tony Stark in a middle management position. Galifianakis, for all intents and purposes, simply reprises his role as Alan Garner from “The Hangover.”
But let’s face it – the notion of the billionaire playboy turned superhero and the good-natured, hairy man-child is extremely appealing and in “Due Date,” while the story may disappoint, the interactions between the film’s two stars will not.
Most of the screen time is spent with the two main characters, however, guest stars and cameos appear along the way. Juliette Lewis plays Ethan’s pot-dealer in a performance more memorable for Peter’s interactions with her kids then anything she really does.
“Eastbound and Down” star Danny McBride plays a bank teller in the funniest of the films cameo appearances. Jamie Foxx also appears as Peter’s friend, who happens to have a romantic past with his wife. Foxx doesn’t bring very much to the table other than plot points for the main characters to bounce off of, but his place in the film is no deterrent.
When all is said and done, “Due Date” will more than likely live in the shadows of both its colossal predecessor “The Hangover” and its upcoming sequel.
And while it may quickly be forgotten in the next couple of years while its overshadowing directorial siblings still shine, it is still an admirable and funny film that’s good for a laugh and a healthy dose of Robert Downey Jr.’s characteristic quick-witted cynicism or Galifianakis’ idiotic charm.