Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Due Date: We've Been Down this Road Before

"The Hangover" was something of a surprise hit last year, raking in dough and making stars out of its then B-list cast. Now, director Todd Phillips and beardy weirdy unpronounceable Zach Galifianakis return to our screens, with the help of one Robert Downey Jnr, for a similarly pitched comedy of escalating exasperation and silliness.

RDJ plays Peter, a grumpy architect trying to get home from a business trip before the imminent birth of his first child. Galifianakis is Ethan, the beardy weirdy bane of his life. Within five minutes of meeting, Ethan gets Peter shot and banned from flying home so, of course, they end up in a rental car together, driving cross-country before you can say "Planes, Trains and Automobiles".

This is a very familiar and contrived set-up, but that shouldn't matter as long as the laughs are there, and they mostly are. Now, personally, I didn't see what the fuss was over "The Hangover". It was funny, sure, but more due to the performers and the dialogue than the episodic silly set-piece based structure. This is the case again here.

It's no secret that I have a complicated man-crush on RDJ, and he is immensely watchable as an unusually bitter and vicious character, prone to obnoxious outbursts and random acts of violence. He spits on a dog, he punches a child and, for a fan of "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", it's good to hear him swearing again.

Galifianikis carries on where Alan left off in "The Hangover", another bumbling, ignorant man-child who means well but causes chaos via sheer stupidity. He's funny, but the wacky beardo shtick may be in danger of wearing thin already. And this has nothing to do with the fact that people say I look like him. Nothing at all.

The combination of these characters may prove a difficult one for some audiences. Extremely flawed as they both are, it could be argued that there is no one to root for onscreen, but I found the film engaging enough on its own terms as a catalogue of errors made by a pair of idiots who don't know how stupid they are.

The plot cycles through a number of contrived mishaps as our "heroes" grow to like each other intermittently, but there are few real standout moments aside from some choice banter and RDJ's ever-increasing exasperation at Galifianakis' hairy space-cadet.

There are hints of plot development,but most are left hanging or resolved without event, leaving us with lots of musical driving montages and that old feeling of familiarity mixed with the suspicion that many scenes have been trimmed in the edit to streamline the pace. Phillips is content to simply punctuate the film with digressive guest stars such as Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis and the RZA whenever things get dull.

So, like "The Hangover", it's a broad, simple, and fairly predictable comedy buoyed by strong performances from its leads, but with a few added moments of pathos due to Ethan's grief over the loss of his father, who accompanies them on their journey in the form of a coffee tin full of ashes. Bet you can't guess what happens to that.

And another thing for fans of KKBB, the pregnant wife waiting for Peter in Los Angeles is played by Michelle Monaghan. Her appearance is little more than a cameo, but its the closest thing we're gonna get to seeing Harry and Harmony together again, so it is to be treasured.


  1. The Hangover was probably 60% good, as it was like an 80s film for a large portion. However, why didn't they just write this as something Alan gets up to? Like a prequel to the Hangover, as it were. That man is mysterious.

  2. I would happier if Michelle Monaghan was in it more. And if instead of Zach Galifinakis they had Val Kilmer. And if it was called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2.

  3. I saw this opening night and was surprised at how funny I found it. Basically RDJ's looks and anger are what won me over, but Zach Galifianakis was comical as well. As always, good review!

  4. I immediately thought of Planes Trains and Cars. IMMEDIATELY!

    Great minds blah blah blah, yeah?

  5. Maf: It may as well just be the same character from The Hangover.

    Sugar: I'm afraid KKBB2 will only ever exist in our minds.

    Nicole: Have you changed your name? And yes, the actors are what made the film.

    Kelly: it doesn't really take a great mind to deduce that connection!

    Thanks for commenting!

  6. I'm with Sugar- KKBB is an excellent movie and I'd be so excited for a second one I'd probably pee my pants. I am apprehensive about Due Date because I love Zach Galifianakis as a stand up, and an odd one at that, but I feel like as a movie actor (after only like 1 major film) he is already completely typecast which sucks.

  7. Kat: I know a sequel to KKBB would be nice. I even done a post about it in the past (see below), but it's just wishful thinking. That film made about three dollars and Shane Black hasn't made a film since! We need to stop torturing ourselves about it. We have to let go!


  8. When I first got my blog I was paranoid that someone was going to find me and rape me so I used a nickname, but now people I know have blogs so I just changed it to my first name

  9. After seeing the trailer, I wasn’t really expecting this to be funny, but I wasn’t expecting to be completley bored with every thing I saw. This movie just blew.