Monday, 15 November 2010

Film Review: Due Date

Having achieved great success with The Hangover, Todd Phillips' latest film can understandably command a certain degree of hype. Certainly my hopes were high regarding Due Date and on paper it appears to have a lot going for it. Not only does Todd Phillips direct, but it features one of Hollywood's most popular and charismatic actors in Robert Downey Jr. alongside one of America's hottest new comedy stars, Zach Galfianakis - in a vehicle. So far so good.

Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) is a highly-strung, uptight architect on his way back from Atlanta for the birth of his first child in LA. What should be a routine trip however is soon thrown into chaos when he crosses paths with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Galfianakis), signalling a chain of unfortunate events which sees them both put on a no-fly-list. Having lost his wallet in the confusion, Peter has no alternative but to hitch a cross-country ride with Ethan and his dog if he's to stand any chance of making it back in time.

This is a mismatched buddy comedy which pulls all the expected strings of slapstick and sympathy. While inevitably Due Date will be compared to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Phillips has clearly tried to go for an edgier version. However, Due Date fails in this regard, relying heavily on gross-out comedy such as masturbating hounds for shits and giggles. To put it simply, it isn't very funny, scarcely eliciting a smirk. In fact, I can say without a doubt that the best part of the movie is where the duo get stoned in the car. Not because the 'trip' (pun intended) is particularly hilarious, but purely because Pink Floyd's 'Hey You' is blasting in the background. Other than that, the set pieces and encounters the pair have along their journey end up feeling somewhat hollow.

To be fair to Due Date, there are a few reasonably amusing moments scattered about, but for every one of these there are more perturbing ones. While by the end of the film you do, kinda, feel Peter might have learned from his experience and grown as a person, you detect no such thing with Ethan, which somewhat defeats the purpose of this kind of tale. Indeed, Galfianakis is quickly becoming typecast as an uncouth slob, making for more profoundly annoying rather than loveable oaf. Maybe another Hangover was too much to hope for, but I was expecting better.