Sunday, November 7, 2010

Movie Review: Due Date

 In 1987, Planes, Trains and Automobiles followed straight-laced Steve Martin as he gets stuck traveling with kooky John Candy (who is still mourning the death of his beloved wife) across the country, to make it home for Thanksgiving dinner. In 2010, Due Date follows straight-laced (and in need of anger management) Robert Downey Jr. as he gets stuck traveling cross country with kooky Zach Galifianakis (who is mourning the recent death of his beloved father).

It’s easy to see how the producers pitched this film to the studios, It’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles for a new generation (i.e. – it includes pot smoking, immigration gags, masturbation and an inappropriate use of someone’s ashes).

Aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) literally runs into Peter Highman (Downey) (or at least his car) as he’s trying to catch a flight out of Atlanta’s Hartfield Airport. In the process, their bags get switched which causes a problem when TSA agents find Ethan’s glaucoma medicine (read: pot) in what appears to be Peter’s bag. It gets worst from there when Ethan ends up in first class where Highman’s Blackberry and Ethan’s repeated use of the words “terrorist” and “bomb” not only get the pair kicked off of the plane but also added to the federal government’s “No Fly” list.

When Highman realizes that he has lost his wallet in the ruckus, he has no choice but to drive with Ethan and his dog, Sonny, to Los Angeles.

I enjoyed this movie and went in expecting lots of laughs. While there were definitely some laugh out loud moments, there weren’t as many as I was expecting – which is often the case with ‘sweet’ comedies. What made the movie work was the undeniable chemistry between Downey and Galifianakis. This movie would have completely fallen flat without their connection.

Jamie Foxx as Highman’s best friend and Juliette Lewis as a pot dealer in Birmingham are good in their extended cameos but, make no mistake, it’s up to the two stars to carry this. They carried it as far as they can, but to go the distance, they needed funnier material to work with.

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