In Due Date, Robert Downey Jr is Peter Highman, a high-strung first-time father eager to get home from Atlanta to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Zach Galifianakis plays Ethan Tremblay, who without malice causes a massive road block to Downey's efforts to get home.
The pair makes a fine comedic cinematic combination. Downey is great as the straight man and Galifianakis is making a career as the slobby, slapstick prone sidekick and in Due Date, both actors are allowed to shine under Todd Phillips' direction.
Due Date is not simply a road trip movie in the vein of Plains, Trains and Automobiles to which many may immediately compare. It is also a film about family and friendship and what each of those elements means to our lives.
Galifianakis' character has just lost his father and it was his father's wish that his character head to Hollywood in hopes of acting stardom. That is why Tremblay is at the Atlanta airport, awaiting a flight to Los Angeles. After Downey and Galifianakis are introduced when their rides to the airport have an accident at curbside check-in, their paths are on a collision course. At first, the two seem amicable, but soon that warm sentiment will unravel as Galifianakis gets Downey kicked off the plane.
With no wallet, no cash and no ID, Downey has little choice but to accept a ride from Galifianakis and his dog as they drive to California.
Some feel that Galifianakis has done nothing but play this type of role since his Hangover breakout. Yet, after witnessing his nuanced performance in It's Kind of a Funny Story, it is impossible not to see the depth of Galifianakis' acting talent. It is again on display in Due Date as he is equally sensitive and silly and it is a joy to witness both.
Downey, who has made fewer comedies in his career as we would like, takes to his role with pomp and panache. Many a performer would have taken the Peter Highman role and not been able to have the restraint necessary to make not only the performance work, but also serve its role in the overall arc of the movie which just proves what a fantastic actor Downey is.
Where Due Date gets a little off course is about two-thirds of the way through the film. Phillips tries his best to keep the hilarity and warm fuzzy feelings pace throughout, but Due Date runs out of gas in the last 30 minutes. Detours into Mexico fall flat, as does the waste of the talent in the cameo by Jamie Foxx as Downey's best friend. The "is he the father?" of Downey's baby bit just doesn't float and is, frankly, a detour on the road to comedy classic.
Overall, Due Date is worth its weight, but for those looking for the hilarity of The Hangover, you will be disappointed. But this is a completely different movie and its heart is never lost in the comic mayhem. As we asked previously, does Due Date deliver? Definitely.
Out of five stars…
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