Friday, July 22, 2011

Due Date (2010)

     I am not a fan of Todd Philips as a director – his most palatable work to me still being Road Trip (2000) – but he has somehow become popular because his efforts produce significant returns above the production & promotion budgets.  Due Date (2010) isn't as aggressively unlikeable as The Hangover (2009), but it is far from a complete project.  Operating as an edgier Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), Due Date doesn't quite capture the spirit of the earlier film.  It tries too hard at times – because pot is funny in and of itself, right? – and just as often has no sense of itself whatsoever (any explanation of what happens with the Range Rover left in Mexico?).
     Overall, the movie is a very mixed bag.  There are a few truly funny moments, mostly involving Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) being unable to control his anger.  The notion of a soon-to-be father punching a child because he is frustrated may seem beyond inappropriate, but Philips and Downey Jr. really make it work in this movie.  Zach Galifianakis doesn't do anything new here, and that is pretty disappointing.  He has better range than what Philips allows to come through.  Juliet Lewis plays within her range and is gone soon enough so as to not grate on the viewer's nerves.  Soon afterwards, however, unfunny-man Danny McBride shows up to stop the momentum dead.  The movie drags until Jaime Foxx shows up (why is he even in this movie?), but his character seems to exist for the sole purpose of setting up a sight-gag in the hospital at the end.
     While I Due Date was nowhere near as bad as I had expected, it is a rather forgettable effort.  It really feels like two separate projects crammed together and made me wish I was watching Steve Martin and John Candy instead.  On the other hand, I do think Downey Jr. did his best to rise above the material and direction; he really is a gifted actor who can almost salvage a movie on his own.  Philips fans will get what they expect, but whatever heart he allowed to slip into his earlier films has given way to crass and (somewhat) angry humor.

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