“The Hangover” might have been the Mount Everest of comedies in the last few years, but “Due Date” probably weighs in at a subpar Mount St. Helens. Director Todd Phillips had all the potential to leave audiences in stitches once again, but choked under the pressure and shadow of the ridiculously humorous hit, “The Hangover.”
It’s true that Todd Phillips raised the bar quite high for himself after the extremely successful release of “The Hangover.” It holds the records for the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and the No. 1-selling comedy DVD with over 8 million discs sold.
The film came out of left field, but was a home run for Phillips and star Zach Galifianakis. Phillips and Galifianakis have paired up once again for the new film “Due Date,” released on Nov. 5.
Galifianakis reprises his role as a socially awkward, naïve man, Ethan Tremblay, who causes trouble and chaos for all who encounter him. But while “The Hangover” offered a clever script that Galifianakis surprisingly and expertly brought to life for his famed role of Alan, “Due Date” was not written as brilliantly.
This movie offers a few sharp, funny one-liners for Galifianakis to spew with the oblivious wrong-ness we all love him for. But if that’s what you’re looking for, stick to replays of the “Due Date” trailer, and your DVD of “The Hangover” to feed your Galifianakis hunger until the highly anticipated sequel, “The Hangover 2.”
It’s undeniable that “Due Date” was spectacularly cast. Alongside Galifianakis was Academy Award nominee Robert Downey Jr. After successfully achieving sobriety in the early 2000s, he made an admirable comeback into the acting world. Downey Jr. has won audiences over with award-winning roles in box office hits like “Sherlock Holmes,” “Iron Man” and “Tropic Thunder.”
The film also offered small roles for Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis and Danny McBride.
Downey Jr. plays a temperamental traveler who’s anger management issues are only amplified by the antagonizing Galifianakis, and Downey Jr.’s desperation to get home to Los Angeles where his pregnant wife is quickly approaching her due date.
Downy Jr.’s character, Peter Highman, really isn’t memorably funny. His uncontrollable anger incites “funny” situations. These situations are typically tense, high-action, over-the-top scenes that are supposed to induce laughter but, overall, fall flat.
Outrageously crude, politically incorrect scenarios make up the bulk of the film. The comedy surprisingly incorporated multiple high-action scenes, like “Pineapple Express.” Ridiculous and elaborate chase scenes and car crashes might draw laughter out of some, but might confuse those expecting a traditional comedy.
Highman and Tremblay first meet at an airport. Tremblay’s social ignorance and inconsiderateness irritates Highman. The scene escalates and eventually leads to the two being kicked off their flight and put on the no-fly list. Stuck at the airport with no wallet, Highman is forced to accept Tremblay’s offer to carpool back to Los Angeles.
And so, the most unorthodox pair departs. Of course, on the way, they end up involved in a number of unseen shenanigans, but many of these are more cringe-worthy rather than funny.
At this point, the film’s genre suddenly turns more into an over-the-top action film than a comedy. The funny part is supposed to be that the events are so outrageous, they’re silly. Think extreme slapstick.
The main comical foundation of the movie is focused around the tense relationship of Highman and Tremblay. Tremblay’s stupidity is almost the death of Highman on multiple occasions. While these occasions are just replayed throughout the film and supposed to be the driving hilarity of the comedy, it is surprising that Highman doesn’t strangle Tremblay.
Downey Jr. is a very capable actor with great comedic timing. But his anger might have thrived more with a dramatic script, rather than this comedy.
Instead of the clever and unpredictable script that “The Hangover” used to make its successful entrance into the film world, “Due Date” ended up as an action film disguised as a comedy with funny characters that weren’t given enough to work with.
Overall, the movie had a lot of potential to be much better than it actually was. It had a great cast, a great director and a great premise going for it. “Due Date” could have been a hit. Instead, it will only win over some audiences and leave the rest dissatisfied.
If you’re looking for a guys’ night out, this may be the perfect film. If the thought of masturbating dogs is your cup of tea, then dig into these crass crumpets. If you’re dying to see it, then don’t wait. But if these descriptions made you think twice, don’t waste your money because this film won’t be what you bargained for.