Due Date * *

Genre: Comedy

Director: Todd Philips

Writers: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Philips 

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis

Running Length: 100 minutes

Synopsis: Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is a stressed-out businessman who is trying his best to get home in LA from a business meeting from Atlanta in time to catch the birth of his first child, but a chance meeting with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) and a series of unfortunate events later, the unlikely duo is forced to pair up for a very eventful road trip across America. 

Review: If you were Todd Philips, how will you choose to follow up the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time (The Hangover)? The obvious answer is The Hangover 2 (which of course is coming our way in 2011), but in between the two Hangovers, Philips had found a chance to squeeze in Due Date, which in many aspects is almost like a 21st century update to Planes, Trains and Automobiles. 

Starring one of the hottest leading men in Hollywood, as well as a rising star in the comedy genre, Due Date seems like a movie that cannot fail. However, the end product is a little iffy – while much of Due Date is entertaining and there are a good number of laugh out loud moments, the pacing of the film is off and the conclusion of the film is a textbook definition of the phrase “fizzle out”. While I don’t think Philips was gunning for the same success as The Hangover, this is quite apparently a quickly hashed out movie designed to make some box office bucks before the Oscar big guns and year end blockbusters start arriving at the cinemas. 

That in itself is not a crime, of course, but I just wished that Due Date could have stepped up its game a little more – both Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis are more than adequate for their roles, but there is so little character development that all the potential chemistry between the duo is lost in the film’s two dimensions. The screenplay’s attempts to inject some sentimentality into the film don’t really work well either, and come off feeling half-baked and forcefully played out. What’s worse, however, is the way events unfold in the final reel, stretching credibility to the max and ending the film on a very limp note. This is possibly one of the worst denouements in any comedy I’ve seen this year, and that’s saying a lot. 

However, Due Date is definitely not a total wash – there are enough funny (though rather expected) scenes to fill the film’s running time, with the best moments in the film coming from the scenes where Peter loses control of his emotions and lashes out at Ethan in one way or another. There are also a fair number of action sequences in the film, and these surprisingly are quite effectively shot. On top of that, Due Date manages to work in some really picturesque shots of the drive across America, and it also features an eclectic, fun soundtrack, something which many people feel is a prerequisite of any good road trip movie. If you’re into buddy movies, Due Date is decent, middling fare – here’s hoping Philips will be able to achieve something greater when The Hangover 2 comes around. 

Rating: * * (out of four stars)

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