Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Due Date

I was cautiously optimistic when I went to the theater on Saturday to see Due Date. With the combination Robert Downey Jr's bad-ass sexiness and Zach Galifianakis' consistent humor, Due Date's cast appealed to me. But the story also seemed a whole lot like 1987's Planes, Trains and Automobiles-- a movie that I certainly enjoy, but do not need to see remade.

The initial concept seemed all too familiar. In their attempts to fly from Georgia to LA, Peter Highman (Downey Jr) and Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) get placed on a no-fly list thanks to Highman's angry reaction to Tremblay's idiotic antics. Highman needs to make it home to LA in three days for the birth of his son, but is unable to rent a car because his wallet is with his luggage on the plane. Enter Tremblay, a wannabe actor headed to "Hollywood," ready to save the day with his rental car (and complicate it with the coffee can filled with his dad's ashes). Despite Tremblay's clear deficiencies as a travel companion, he is Highman's only option, so the two embark on a cross-country roadtrip. Hijinks ensue.

For the first half hour of the movie, I was thinking, "Yeah, yeah, this is funny, but nothing new." And then, with a surprise sucker-punch, the movie starts to go a little nuts. Highman gets a little crazier than initially presented, Tremblay continues to become wackier, and the problems their trip poses stop being typical travel mishaps. It was just what the movie needed to become its own.

One of the things that impressed me the most about Due Date was how it dealt with the more tender scenes that most comedies stumble over. Due Date sneaks into them: what starts as a joke morphs into a moment where you really feel for one of the characters. Then, just as you start to get in a little too deep, Galifianakis says something ridiculous and you're laughing again.

Due Date is doomed to be compared to The Hangover, as they're both directed by Todd Phillips. Though I did like The Hangover better, Due Date is certainly worthy of being packaged with it in the nostalgic comedy box-set that will be released in another 15 years.

Due Date is a dumb movie, but a good kind of dumb. (However, be warned, if you're like my sister and don't like Galifianakis, this is not the movie for you). I give it a 4/5.

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