Due Date
These two clearly don’t understand the “I’m Not Touching You” game rules.


Theatrical Release Date: 11/05/2010
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride


Trailer:

I thought actors kept their dogs in purses.

Director Todd Phillips is best know for a few of the very good comedies he’s helmed: “The Hangover“, “Old School”, “Road Trip” (this one is debatable but I’m trying to be nice). However, it’s also good to keep in mind that he also was in charge of “School for Scoundrels” and “Starsky & Hutch”

Apparently, Phillips wanted to even out his resume and decided that he needed another less than stellar effort before dropping the highly anticipated “Hangover 2″. As a result, audiences are now able to witness the lifeless, unbalanced glory that is “Due Date”.

The premise isn’t bad: an pair of mismatched strangers (Robert Downey Jr. & Zach Galifianakis) get kicked off a plane and are forced to drive across the county together. Hilarity should ensue from this odd couple scenario. Sadly, there are certain elements necessary in any good film and I’ll start my list of grievances with the script.

There are four names credited with the final screenplay (who knows how many people contributed beforehand) and that’s not even counting the ad libs that Phillips surely allowed his actors. This leads to a confused heap of ideas all fighting for dominance and a number of scenes that should have been cut to tighten the story but apparently, there’s one joke in each of them that was so necessary that sacrificing cohesion was worth the price.

The next problem stems from the lead actors. Downey is sleepwalking through his performance and we might as well have seen the people holding cue cards just off camera. His character is a jerk with an anger management problem that never gets the proper character development to suggest a real change, let alone for the audience to see it.

Then there’s Galifianakis. Although I’ve found him extremely funny in most of the supporting or cameo roles he’s been accustomed to, a fundamental problem arises when given a true lead role: his shtick is one note and I’m tired of hearing it played. His characters employ a deadpan delivery and childlike understanding of the world, which works fine if there are other actors to provide a contrasting style of humor for the audience. An hour and a half straight of the typical Galifianakis character simply numbs the brain.

What this film needed was an independent party to view what Phillips thought was the final result, give him notes on where the story veered off track and tell him what scenes were superfluous all in the great quest for keeping one punchline. There’s enough talent on hand and a core idea good enough to produce a funny film. Sadly, that’s just not what ended up on-screen.

I briefly thought about giving the film a score commensurate with the number of times I laughed out loud … but that would mean it gets a zero. I did like certain moments, however they were few and far between. Still, since the audience seemed to laugh fairly often and I rarely entertained the idea of wishing I’d stayed home, I’ll give “Due Date” a 2 out of 5. It’s clear that some people will find it funny; I’m just not one of them. Re-watching “The Hangover” on Blu-ray would have been a far better choice.

2 out of 5