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Film Only Review:
Peter Highman (Robert Downey, Jr.) has an expectant wife in Los Angeles and is an architect who has been working in Atlantic. Ready to go back home for his wifes c section things should be straightforward when he goes to catch his plane. However things start to go very wrong when he meets Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), after the limo he was travelling to the airport in has a prang.
The two men are chalk and cheese with Peter being smart, clever and rather highly strung and Ethan being a pot smoking rebel, unkept and rather, well thick really but with a sense of humour that Peter seems to have missed out on since birth.
However the two men are flung together after Peter happily boards the plane to his dismay Ethan turns up on first class behind him as he has been bumped up to first class and after Ethan openly talking about bombs and the likes a federal air marshal ens up shooting a rubber bullet into Peter, he ends up banned from travelling on aircraft so hes suddenly stuck in Atlanta with his luggage vanished and no wallet. However Ethan is in much the same position though he hasn't lost his wallet and he's also travelling up LA as he has dreams of being an actor. So Ethan hires a car and convinces Peter to travel with him, his pug Sunny and his dead dad in a coffee tin.
They race against the clock to get back to LA in time for the birth of Peters baby but along the way Peter gets really fed up of Ethan, even leaves him at one point when he manages to get his mate Darryl (Jamie Foxx) to come collect him.
The big quesrion is can Peter get to his wife in time for the birth of their child in time and in one piece and will Ethan even make it as an actor?
I was really looking forward to watching this film as I really do like Robert Downey JR and Jamie Foxx. This was a bit of a let down though with the potential to be a lot funnier than it was. Oddly enough the film got better as it went on and I can't say that bits of it wernt funny though parts did drag and it had a predictable ending as well. I did chuckle at parts and did like the difference in personalities between the two main characters and as a whole the film had heart.
With a run time of 95 minutes that was about right and its a 15 rated movie which again is right in my opinion due to the bad language and there is a masterbation scene in it (which is more funny than erotic!). Not a bad watch but not one to go out of the way to buy in my opinion!
Having watched and enjoyed the Hangover a number of times I was quite looking forward to seeing Todd Phillips next directorial bow Due Date. The reviews and trailers made it look like a very entertaining movie with a few elements of The Hangover mixed with some ideas from one of Phillips earlier movies, Road Trip. Over the years I have also seen road trip and as a result I was quite looking forward to sitting down to watch Due Date last night.
Race Against Time
With a few days to go before his wife is due to give birth, Peter is on his way back to LA from a business trip in Atlanta to be at the birth. His plans go array though following an accident at the airport he crosses paths with Ethan, an aspiring actor, and from there things start to get worse. Following a further altercation on the plane they both end up being removed from the flight and added to the no fly list. With his money and ID still on the plane Peter has no way of making the trip home and with only days to go is forced into sharing a car with Ethan, a trip that turns out to being rather eventful.
Following his big break through with The Hangover the spotlight was firmly on Todd Phillips with his follow up film. With the success of his previous movie and a follow up on the way this would see the inevitable comparisons between this and his previous work. The end result though is a movie that blends the style of comedy shown in The Hangover with the concept behind Phillips earlier career involvement in Road Trip. As a result the blend of the two films, whilst perhaps not as obviously funny as the Hangover the observational comedy side of this movie is far more imperative.
It's unfair though to compare this movie as in all honesty it is a different type of Comedy. The road trip element of the movie actually works quite well and Phillips gets an excellent response out of his two leads to create the right feel about the movie. The comedy element is quite dark and whilst the concept has been done before, Phillips seems to use a few little tricks to make it look like a fresh idea. The camera angles, sound effects and lighting are all very well done and in particular I was very impressed with the stunt elements carried out within the story.
The Continued Repertoire Of RDJ
Since his appearance in 2008's Iron Man as Tony Stark the rise of Robert Downey Jr as a leading Hollywood actor has grown quite rapidly. He has taken on a wide range of roles since 2008 and has surprised me with his versatility. His character here is quite serious and Downey Jr portrays that very well, he also brings to life Peter's anger management issues really well. Perhaps the most important aspect though is his onscreen relationship with Zach Galifianakis who takes on the role of Ethan. The pair work remarkably well together and create a real love/hate feeling to the films two lead characters.
As has been done countless times before the characters grow to like each other but it's the way Phillips handles this that makes it different to similar films. Without giving it away the end was a little different to how I expected and I felt it actually worked a lot better this way. Just like The Hangover the appearance of Galifianakis within the movie works really well. He fits the role that Phillips and the writing team have created really well and once again his unusual mannerisms and his performance really make Ethan an annoying, yet loveable character. There are a number of guest roles, but these are quite minor and it would be fair to say that Downey Jr and Galifianakis really are the main stars, along with a masturbating dog.
Phillips Rising Star
It would be fair to say that whilst it isn't the most original concept for a movie, I felt that Phillips did a good job with what was available to him. His profile is growing quite rapidly and movies like this will certainly help alongside amazing films like The Hangover. What he's done here though is create a reasonably funny movie that entertains well during its hour and a half runtime. It is the perfect length for the type of movie it is and I would happily recommend this and can say quite confidently that its one of those movies that will become funnier the more times you see it.
It sounds like a great premise: take the director of The Hangover, and Zach Galifianakis, whose breakthrough performance in the same film stole pretty much every scene he was in. Add the highly talented Robert Downey Jr and put them in an odd couple road trip comedy with supporting roles from Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis and Michele Monaghan. Comedy gold, surely?
Well, unfortunately, no. I'd heard not-so-great things about this film, but also some good reviews. So, as I really enjoyed The Hangover and am usually a big Robert Downey Jr fan, I was more than prepared to give the movie a chance.
Downey Jr is the uptight Peter Highman, preparing to fly home to Los Angeles in for the birth of his first child (by c section, hence the certaintly of the due date). After literally bumping into Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) at the airport a series of events contrives to leave Highman stuck without bags, wallet or ID and on the no-fly list, with only Tremblay's offer of a lift in his hire car to get him home. Personality clashes, misunderstandings, drug deals, car crashes and other adventures ensue.
Now obviously this sounds contrived, and it is - but that's to be expected from this type of comedy. There's nothing particularly new in the odd couple forced together by circumstance - it's probably one of the most common comedy plots around. But that's not necessarily a criticism, it's a classic comedy situation and when done well produces a classic comedy (now I'm just making myself want to rewatch the brilliant Midnight Run again!). However, it just doesn't work for me.
I think the main problem has to be the script - not sharp enough to give enough laughs, or to distract from the implausible situations. Downey Jr's character is another real problem. I just found him too unlikeable to care whether he makes it home or not - he's written as irritable, on edge and sarcastic, but you need to be able to empathise with him too. As for Galifianakis - his loser stoner actor Tremblay is amusing, but seems like a tired rehash of too much of his Hangover character. Maybe it's just no longer fresh seeing him play this role, or maybe this type of character works better a little diluted in an ensemble rather than taking on one of the dual leads. The supporting actors do their thing reliably but there's something wrong at the core of this one. I couldn't tell you how it ends as I'd lost interest by then.
A friend recommended this film to me, even though I'm not always a big fan of comedies. This flick, however, was dry and sarcastic enough in places to make me chuckle and enjoy it more than I had expected, helped in part by the performances of the two lead roles.
Due Date introduces us to Peter Highman, played by the always-cool Robert Downey Jr, a sharp-looking guy who's quickly moved to a bag of nerves as his wife is soon due to give birth to their first child. Being away from her means he has a date for a c-section by which time he needs to be by her side, however incidents at the airport leave him stranded and on the 'no-fly' list. The messy incident was thanks to the supposedly 23-year old, scruffy-looking aspiring actor, Ethan Tremblay (played by Zach Galifianakis). The pair are an unlikely couple to spend time together at the airport waiting lounge let alone take a roadtrip cross-country together, and yet that is exactly what happens.
Stranded without his bags, which are currently miles in away in the air being transported to his destination, Highman needs to find a way back to his wife. Tremblay appears at his side when he's in need, though it looks more like Tremblay is the one in need of company. The rest of the film follow the unlikely pair on their roadtrip together, which is unsurprisingly filled with amusing tales, arguments and unfortunate incidents.
The relationship between the two men is very much one of swings and roundabouts; whilst they don't see eye-to-eye very often, mostly due to Tremblay's unusual behaviour and annoying tendencies (including falling asleep at the wheel and picking up drugs along the way), there are moments where the two connect in quite a sweet way. It's clear that there's more to Tremblay than he makes out, or rather, there's more lies in his stories than truths. It's quite interesting to see the characters unfold during the tension and the comical quips keep the tone light.
Over the course of the 5 days between the start of Highman's journey and his wife's due date there's plenty of action amongst the talking. We also get to see a few more famous faces that add some spice to the mixture and give the film more credibility, including Michelle Monaghan as Sarah (Highman's wife), Jamie Foxx as a friend to the rescue and Juliette Lewis (strangely as a drug dealer). The cast was, overall, well-chosen and made the film much easier to watch; I don't think the film could have pulled its weight without them anyway.
Whilst the acting was of a good standard, especially concerning Downey & Galifianakis, the scripting wasn't always as well-polished as it could have been. The events were often unbelievable in a slightly stupid way, so it's a film you need to watch in the right frame of mind so you don't constantly question what's going on. The issues I had with the film were ones I can't quite put my finger on, namely that it wasn't as gripping as I had hoped, so it didn't get my full and undivided attention. The downtimes between action and politically incorrect comedy meant my attention drifted and some of the attempts at comedy I failed to find amusing. Having said that, there were one or two moments I picked out that did make me chuckle.
Unfortunately I just didn't find this film as entertaining or amusing as it could have been, which was disappointing given it was directed by the man who worked on The Hangover (Todd Phillips), which I found far more entertaining. For me, the two lead roles brought it to life and without them it probably would have fallen on its face. It's a film that was mediocre; not one I'd necessarily watch again or recommend as a laugh-a-minute flick, but at the same time it wasn't the worst attempt at an A-list, sarcastic style comedy I've ever seen either.
2011, rated certificate 15.
RRP £19.99 but selling on Amazon for £8.44.
Director: Todd Phillips
Screenplay: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillips
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan
Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis
Released: Monday 28th February, 2011
Peter (highly-strung with unresolved anger-management issues) is an architect who has been on business in Atlanta. He is on his way back to his home in Los Angeles to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. However he is forced to change his plans after he meets Ethan Tremblay (a slightly effeminate aspiring actor with disgusting personal habits) and accidentally becomes his drugs mule. They still manage to board the plane but Ethan apparently has a propensity to use inappropriate words such as 'bomb' and 'terrorist' in volatile places such as the First Class section of an aeroplane. Peter gets a rubber bullet in the chest thanks to a trigger-happy in-flight security agent and they're both unceremoniously de-boarded. Peter is then forced to hitch a cross-country ride with Ethan in a rental car to Hollywood where Ethan hopes to find himself a role in the TV show Two and a Half Men.
Due Date is very much a contemporary version of the 1987 film Planes, Trains & Automobiles starring John Candy and Steve Martin. In fact it's fair to say that Due Date is rather derivative of the John Hughes movie. Candy, Martin and Hughes were the 80s comedy dream-team and whilst many would consider Phillips, Downey Jr. and Galifianakis to be the present-day equivalent Due Date doesn't quite match the greatness of its forerunner. Due Date, with its team of four writers, could perhaps have offered more in terms of characterisation and deeper exploration of the human psyche.
Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland have both worked on scripts and the production of popular American animated shows such as American Dad and King of the Hill. Adam Sztykiel had scripting duties on the admittedly less impressive Made of Honour (2008) and Todd Phillips has worked on a plethora of decent scripts from School for Scoundrels (2006), Borat (2006), Starsky & Hutch (2004), Old School (2003) and Road Trip (2000). All of which I would like to believe adds up to more than what we get with Due Date. Phillips, especially, has a good track record of comedy films and I'd like to see him take the next step up to doing work that is consistently funny for a full 90 minutes. He is a talented director who could, but has not as yet, match the heights of Judd Apatow.
Downey Jr. (thoroughly engaging as Sherlock Holmes and stylish and sophisticated as Iron Man) has been in such good form of late and is always eminently watchable. He has a genuine warmth and charm that very few other actors can lay claim to having. Galifianakis on the other hand is a difficult actor to sum up. He worked as a stand-up comic before being introduced to movies by Phillips and despite often looking less-than-physically-appealing his characters such as Ethan Tremblay are imbued with a certain amount of flair and confidence. Tremblay on the whole is well dressed, indeed sometimes flamboyantly so, and his demeanour can be quite heart-warming as well as funny. I'm really developing a liking for him as an actor and of his comic abilities. Downey Jr. and Galifianakis produce brave and unabashed performances bringing life and warmth to characters that often act in morally reprehensible ways and should by rights be insufferable.
Due Date is effectively a two-handed film which unfortunately leaves the secondary characters out in the cold. They are sketchily drawn at best. Foxx who has co-starred in several big Hollywood movies including Law Abiding Citizen, Collateral and Ray while Monaghan is an up-and-coming actress who has starred in the likes of Eagle Eye with her next film Source Code looking as though it will be one of the big hits of 2011. Yet here they are both left clawing for some real identity. Their roles are underwritten and feel like cameos rather than roles that should have rounded out the film as a whole. Subsequently the film has to rely heavily on the charm and likeability of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis who are, at times, playing against type which makes them more difficult to like and less simple to empathise with.
Phillips however manages to find both humour and humanity in his characters, giving the actors enough room and opportunity to express themselves within their roles. To some they may appear to be two mean-spirited losers, fighting and insulting each other, but I'll freely admit to enjoying darker, more acerbic humour. Phillips does well with two diametrically opposed characters but with just a little more effort this could have been almost a study of social cruelties and the complexities of human nature. Sadly however it falls just short.
There doesn't seem to be a listing for the Blu-ray on DooYoo but I'll give you some info on it anyway... The Blu-ray offers significantly higher quality visuals than the DVD (also included in the Triple Play package). Skin tones are natural and the colours are rich and bright. The image is sharp throughout without any noticeable grain or defects.
Final thoughts.... Due Date is a darkly humorous, mean-spirited comedy, full of inappropriate behaviour and occasional moments of edgy, inspired humour such as an extremely irritating young boy receiving a gut-punch from Peter and an outrageous scene of a masturbating French poodle. The former flies while the latter bombs but it's the willingness to test the boundaries of humour and taste that impresses. If you like your films with a rich vein of jet-black comedy running through them then Due Date is one to watch.
Towards the back end of last year, a couple of American comedies popped up with relatively well known actors in, I made sure I checked them out, all of them were rather average, Due Date included.
Due Date has a relatively simple plot. Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is an irate type that easily gets irritated, he's got to head to California because his wife is due to give birth, he seems to live a rather typical American business man's life but as he boards his flight to California he finds himself mixed up in an overreaction by an air marshall due to the man sitting behind him, that man is Ethan Tremblay. (Zach Galifinakis)
Many viewers firm favourite since his appearance in The Hangover, Zach Galifinakis plays a very similar role in this film but perhaps less convincing, he does a good job of playing the role of the slightly creepy and rather irritating fat guy that is going to mess it up for Peter but The Hangover was his main real breakthrough and that makes this feel like a bit of a letdown in comparison.
Peter realises that he's left his wallet on the aeroplane and as he's on the no-fly list, the only option is to travel by car with Ethan. The two are very different and don't get on at all, although Ethan tries his best to. The plot is open to a lot of ideas and I have to say that the script writer obviously didn't have a great imagination because I think that there were so many possibilities and things that could have happened in this film due to the complete opposites in personality and the road trip factor.
This film is only mildly funny, there is one or two bits that had me laugh loudly but overall I think it was a bit of a waste of talent.
Last year brought us The Hangover. Next year blesses us with its sequel. This year, though, we were welcomed to a whole new take on the road-trip-comedy-movie. Or were we?
The concept would be phenomenal. After the massive success that The Hangover had endured, it seemed only natural that a similar sounding film, Due Date, would be the hysterical gap to fulfil The Hangover's hiatus while they finished polishing off the 'proper' sequel.
Was it though? You see, as much as I loved the care-bear-like Zach Galifianakis try his best to carelessly ruin the birth of Robert Downey Jr's first born child as they hopelessly travelled America together; as much as I loved the high class businessman combine efforts with a drug-taking dilly-dally in a desperate bid to reach home; heck, even as much as I liked the father's-ashes-in-a-coffee-tin and masturbating dog that joined them on their trip, I just couldn't find myself enjoying it as much as I'd hoped.
All the way through though, I kept getting the feeling that like me, Todd Phillips (director) had seen this film as a bridge between The Hangover films, and as such, this was a little bit of a let down. If it was a film in its own right, it could have been perfect, but in the shadows of the success of 2009, it just didn't make it in the same way its elder brother did.
The two synopsis' were essentially identical. 'Man must travel quickly home to traumatic wife for the biggest day of his life'. It worked triumphantly the first time, but was it as good under the newer ego? The short answer has to be no. The Hangover had everything that Due Date had, and some more. Due Date tried to get there, but its lack of ambition (perhaps due to the fact that the director was possibly concentrating more on The Hangover's sequel than this movie) failed it.
If you have a mega film that has four main characters, you're not really going to get the same 'oomph', the same diversity from just two, are you? It was this niggling feeling that spoiled Due Date for me. If I hadn't seen The Hangover, I perhaps wouldn't have spent the whole time comparing the two, but fundamentally, two films with such a similar background are almost certainly going to be seen by the same people.
Mr Downey Jr. was a fine contradiction to these down-heartened views though. With all of the partial upset of a film being in the shadow of a much larger blockbuster removed, it didn't take too long to realise that this was actually quite a good effort by the man relatively new on the comedy scene. Gone are the days when we should expect Jr. as a tin superhero, or an old English problem solver, even a failed soldier in the dismal Tropic Thunder passed him by without so much as a smile, now, he has comical rights of his own. Probably the most stern-faced man in Hollywood has finally made us laugh!
The fact that it's been a long time coming has only kindled the endeavour, and now we can relax in front of a hugely talented comedy role. Zack Galifianakis did help though, and it wasn't simply Mr Downey that called all the hysterical shots. No, Galifianakis was as priceless as a character can sufficiently be in a film.
His immaturity and carelessness would perhaps have had us throw him from the sunroof had he been travelling with ourselves, but that's the beauty of film. One mans misdemeanour is another man hysterics. We can casually sit back with our over-sized popcorn, a coke that doesn't even fit in the armrest, and £8.99 worth of nachos and laugh at a hairy man who carries a dog in his purse. Yeah, perhaps he's not the only 'silly one' after all.
Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan popped in for a light 'hello', but their efforts went barely noticed in a film that focused mainly on the two main men on a road-trip for an hour and half. Likewise went the fate of Danny McBride, who's five minute scene was over too quickly, and his 'comedic aura was lost in the heat of the moment.
Soundtrack wise, it was a case of popular names rather than popular songs, as tracks from Pink Floyd, Wolfmother, Fleet Foxes, Rod Stewart, Cream, Neil Young and Band of Horses were all not their finest works, though it was interesting to hear such a varied collection of musicians to a film soundtrack.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that Due Date is, in its own right, an astounding piece of comedy, but in the light of its Hangover sandwich, I simply can't see it being remembered as well as those two will. It just can't compete with a better version of itself. And that is a shame, because I love both films, but it's simply just too similar.
Robert Downey Junior stars as Peter Highman, a stressed out father to be, anxious to catch a flight from Atlanta to be in LA with his wife for the birth of their baby. At the airport he encounters the socially inept aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay, played by Zach Galifianakis. Ethan is on his way to scatter his father's ashes at the Grand Canyon. He is overly friendly in a mildly irritating way but not too much to faze Peter, until a series of unfortunate events lead to them being thrown off the plane and placed on a no fly list. Peter, having left his wallet behind, is left with no option but to accept a ride across country with Ethan. By now Peter's nerves are almost at snapping point, and things can only get worse. It's not only a race against time to get to the hospital, but a battle to stay alive as the needy and incompetent Ethan sucks him into his disastrous life.
I went to see this purely because I like Robert Downey Junior and usually enjoy his quick fire humour. However his films tend to be hit and miss and although I had a feeling this one was going to be a miss, I went along anyway. It doesn't cost anything with my trusty Cineworld pass, so there's nothing to lose. Zach Galifianakis isn't an actor that appeals to me so I wasn't expecting too much from this film - I knew it would be gross and bizarre in places and it was. If you've seen the previews showing what happens to his father's ashes, you'll know the kind of thing I mean, but I won't spoil that by going into detail. But that wasn't the thing that made it a failure. It was the fact that the whole scenario didn't work.
This is a film about two people with wildly different personalities thrown together and becoming friends against all the odds. Peter is portrayed as being irritable and highly strung by nature, and his attitude problem is referred to in conversations with his wife. Ethan is portrayed as being childlike and clearly can't help being so annoying. The story seems to be about Peter being tested to the limit and finding an unexpected friend. But for me it just didn't work. For a start, Peter is not really that highly strung anyway, and is actually relatively normal, although given to acidic comments. If anything he's already remarkably tolerant considering the way Ethan screws up his plans and effectively ruins an important event in his life. He's just not very likeable, and lacks the charm that Robert Downey Junior usually brings to a role.
As for Ethan, he's so dim he spends all their remaining petrol money on drugs, he needs reminding to go to the loo at service stations, and falls asleep at the wheel, resulting in a crash so dramatic that it should have killed them both outright. He's so inept, it makes me wonder how he managed to look so well fed, clean and normal when Peter first met him. The character just didn't make sense and it was hard to feel any sympathy for him. Even his dog wasn't very likeable.
Overall, the script just seems to lack the spark that should have made the characters bounce off each other. The comedy scenes seem too contrived, and sometimes really gross - although some people will enjoy that. This could have been much better with sharper, wittier dialogue and less reliance on overly contrived scenarios that usually involved Peter being almost killed, so weren't exactly funny.
Jamie Foxx puts in a brief appearance as Peter's friend Darryl, but he doesn't play a significant enough role to lift the film. Juliette Lewis also puts in an appearance, suitably cast as a drug supplier. Michelle Monaghan appears as Sarah, Peter's wife, but we don't see much of her.
The film was directed by Todd Phillips, producer of The Hangover, and it has a very similar feel to it - people thrust into a situation where things get increasingly bizarre and out of control. But it just doesn't work as well as The Hangover, maybe because there's just too much focus on Peter and Ethan, and I just didn't find them all that funny together. Neither character is likeable enough to really to make you care what happens to them, so it's hard to imagine why they'd ever like each other enough to be friends. Maybe they just deserve each other. It's not one of Robert Downey Junior's best performances. He seemed to be just walking through the role, with a couldn't-care-less attitude, and just doing it for the money. Zach Galifianakis just seems to be playing Zack Galifianakis all the time, as he was just the same as in The Hangover, crude and annoying.
Not a film I'd recommend, unless you really really liked The Hangover, in which case you might feel this is worth a watch.