Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding.
Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.
Robert Downey Jr.,
In Atlanta on business, straight-laced and overly analytical architect Peter Highman is flying home to Los Angeles and his wife Sarah for the imminent birth of their first child. However, traveling by plane no longer becomes an option when he and a fellow passenger, aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay, are kicked off the plane, which was caused by Ethan's social inappropriateness, due to being generally unaware, exacerbated by Peter's temper at a situation against his sensibilities. Peter, who ends up without money or his suitcase, is forced to accept Ethan's offer of a shared car ride to Los Angeles, Ethan who is looking for his big acting break. For Peter, this partnership is one made in hell, but he feels he has no other choice. Peter obviously wants to take as direct and as quick a route as possible, while he is at Ethan's mercy as the person with the driver's license, car rental and money. They get into one misadventure after another on this trip, with the same issue at each ...Written by
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I just had the strangest dream. It's Friday. We're at the hospital. But it's not a hospital, it's a, a, a forest of sorts. And I know that because right next to you there's a bear. A grizzly, cooling his feet in a stream. And all of a sudden, you begin to deliver, and I can't get to you. But the bear can. And the next thing I know, he is holding our beautiful baby boy. And here's where it gets odd. Uh, he chews the cord. But, strangely, I'm okay with it. That's gotta be a good sign.
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Due Date is a comedy of mass frustration. I'm not just talking about what happens to the characters in the film, no, this is simply a frustrating comedy sit through. Here is an all-too-familiar road picture that pins together two people who hate each other and sends them cross-country on a madcap adventure. Needless to say, one guy is an average Joe that we identify with and the other is a blithering idiot who makes every moment a nonstop irritation. If this sounds, at all like the great Planes, Trains and Automobiles, you're not far off the mark.
That earlier movie was a great American comedy. It was funny and endearing because we cared about both parties. We wanted to see Steve Martin get home and we cared about John Candy's shower ring salesman despite all his goofy inefficiencies. Here the Martin role is filled by a very sour Robert Downey Jr. as Peter Highman, an uptight yuppie on his way from Atlanta to Los Angelas to witness the birth of his first child. The John Candy role is filled by Zach Galifianakis, as Ethan, an irritant on two legs who gets Peter thrown off the plane when he won't stop saying the word "bomb". Neither of these two characters are really funny enough to spend any amount of time with.
Peter is probably a nice guy. He seems to care about his wife but he spends the entire movie in a state of boiling anger and that's probably because he is saddled with a guy so insufferable that he could turn even the gentlest soul into a state of rage. Through a series of mishaps, mostly thanks to Ethan's idiocy, they get into every kind of trouble including: A fight with a veteran in a wheelchair; vehicular theft at the Mexican border; a shooting; a car accident; and questions about whether Peter's wife is pregnant with his child.
None of this stuff is really funny. It all seems episodic and some of it is quite violent and unpleasant. I think some of the comic energy that should make these scenes work is missing. We cringe when we should be laughing. I also think that most of the film's failure falls on the head of actor Zach Galifianakis who always seems to illicit the same effect on me as a noisy car alarm. I have seen him in three films now and he always plays the same annoying character: An oddball doofus who has a never-ending repertoire of annoying and disgusting habits. Ethan is a pothead with an annoying dog and even more annoying habits - all of which get under Peter's skin and sadly ours too. His presence, I swear, brings this movie to a dead stop and since he occupies at least 90% of it, you can imagine how unpleasant this movie is.
Due Date was directed by Todd Phillips, who made The Hangover, one of my favorite films of recent years. What that film had was a collection of likable characters and a narrative structure that pulled us from beginning to end. Here his story an episodic series of annoying moments and mean-spirited characters. It ranges from disgusting to irritating to violent and finally soft and cuddly. The problem is that very very rarely ever funny.
** (of four)
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