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Due Date


I’m beginning to understand why the Academy is so reluctant to include comedies in their nominations. The nature of the comedic genre – and horror to a certain extent – is much harder to gauge than the likes of dramas and thrillers. What makes one movie inherently funnier than the next varies and will always be coupled with a juvenile immaturity – unless you’re Woody Allen – that many will think has no place in the upper echelon of cinema. Due Date mixes the juvenile, the socially awkward and the modern “loud” humor in a pleasant, but not overtly hilarious style.

Grade:

Along the same vein as the classic Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Due Date follows tense father-to-be Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) as he is prevented from flying and sets off on a cross-country road trip with socially odd, but somewhat affable Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis).

While Due Date is funny and exceeded my “laugh expectations”, there was a constant void throughout the film. We are given the back-stories of Peter and Ethan to some degree, but you never truly care about the characters in the way you should. Peter has to make it to L.A. to be present for the birth of his first child and Ethan is headed to L.A. for the same reason anyone moves to there: to become an actor. This is all well and good, but after a half-dozen references to these goals, you are left waiting for the next joke to come. Sometimes it does, and sometimes you have to wait a bit longer.

With the recent Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler movies relying on loud, almost unintelligible, shrieks of ludicrous sentiments, Due Date offers a nice respite by allowing the slightly skewed nature of Ethan and Peter’s reasonable – and realistic – reactions to provide the humor…for two-thirds of the film. Downey Jr. and Galifianakis have such differing comedic styles that their characters have a decent chemistry and relatable clash to them. Unfortunately, the subdued humor is replaced by a descent into the realm of the ridiculous with absurd car chases, gunshots and broken limbs that don’t fit well with the film’s opening sequences.

There is one aspect of the plot that struck a chord with me and provided some hope for an original ending. Without giving too much away, the inclusion of Peter’s friend, Darryl (Jamie Foxx), set Date up to follow a completely different path that would not have necessarily made the film better, but it would have sparked new interest in the plot. By abandoning that line, director Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover I&II) doomed Due Date to end on a bland note. It would have been a big opportunity to commend Phillips for taking the road less traveled in comedy, but that just wouldn’t be his style I guess.

In the end, I wouldn’t outright recommend Due Date, but I would not recommend avoiding it. If you find yourself with an open opportunity to watch it, you will be entertained and move on, but if you take your viewing elsewhere, you will not be missing out on much.

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  1. I thought the film was better than the trailers made it look…But that isn’t exactly saying much. I agree with your review, though

    • Exactly. I was surprised how often I laughed, but it still never passed mediocre.

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