Sunday, July 3, 2011

DUE DATE (2010) - Review

Todd Phillips met with fame through his low-brow comedies. "Old School" and "The Hangover" are some of the best of their kind. Full of raunchy humor and laugh-out-loud performances, they haven't necessarily reinvented the genre, but they found a way to make it work like never before. A feat that doesn't feel as impressive in "Due Date", a movie clearly resting on the laurels of "The Hangover", but still an off-beat experience that remains watchable, depending on your definition of watchable.

Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is about to become a father. The due date fastly approaching, he has to catch a plane from Atlanta to Los Angeles. His path unfortunately crosses with that of Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) who "helps" Peter off his flight and lands him on a no-fly list. Now, since Peter left his money and papers on the plane, his only hope of getting home is Ethan and his rental car. This is the beginning of a cross-country drive that will shatter Peter's illusions of safey and his sanity, as time after time the oddball Ethan gets him in all kinds of trouble. Oh, and did I mention Ethan's wonderful personality ? Yeah, you get the picture.

In fact, neither one can boast about their charming personalities. Ethan is a total goofball, while Peter is arrogant and uptight. By the end, Peter is going to develop warmer feelings towards Ethan, but I suspect it's not a lasting change. The movie's premise borrows heavily, if not entirely from John Hughes' "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", starring Steve Martin and John Candy. The only difference between the two movies is that Hughes' version had a heart and characters that grew on you, while Phillips' version tries too hard to make the two leads unlikable in order for the gross-out humor to work. At some point I had the feeling that the only reason why I was still watching the movie was just to see how much lower the characters could fall.

"Planes, Trains and Automobiles" was rated R, because of a single scene, where Steve Martin blows a fuse at a car rental office, resulting in the use of 18 F-bombs in exactly 60 seconds (IMDb.com -approved Trivia), resulting in a hilarious punchline. That gag had every right to be there, so the sacrifice of having the movie rated R was well worth it. But "Due Date" takes pride in its R rating a little too much. F-bombs are dropped every other minute, the story features drugs and drug dealers (Juliette Lewis), there is a scene where Galifianakis explicitly masturbates while his dog vigorously follows his example. Also, there are several scenes of wanton violence, like, for example, when Peter gets beaten to a pulp by an angry Iraq veteran in a wheelchair. The movie earns its R-rated stripes with sadistic glee.

"Due Date" has occasional bursts of wit, plenty of mindless fun and gags that work more often than not. The two leads, obnoxious as they may be, do a great job and make the dysfunctional duo work better than it should. All in all, if you like your comedy raunchy, this is a better than average example. If not, don't say I didn't warn you.

1 comment:

  1. I really love this movie, I think you're right it is pretty much a low-brow affair, but it does have several levels it works on quite well ( http://www.deepfocusfilmstudies.com/due-date-in-focus.html ), it would be great to see a second teaming up of the leads.


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