It is inevitable that Due Date gets comparisons to the classic John Hughes movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Both films have a straight-laced family man and a quirky, damaged man traveling together facing one mishap after another. The comparisons are certainly warranted, and while Due Date is not as good as Planes, Trains and Automobiles, it is still a good movie that deserves a chance if just to see the two characters interact.
Due Date opens with businessman Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) talking to his very pregnant wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) and assuring her that he will be back in time for the birth of their child. On the way to the plane and onboard his path crosses with Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) and through a series of misunderstandings they are both kicked off the plane and Peter is put on the no-fly list. Left without his ID or wallet (they were in his carry-on that is still on the plane), Peter has no choice but to travel with Ethan so he can make it home in time.
Their characters are both solidly represented and quite different from each other. Peter is a man who has trouble controlling his temper and also believes (maybe rightly so) that he is smarter than everyone else. Ethan is an innocent soul who dreams of traveling to Hollywood and starring alongside Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. Ethan is also carrying the ashes of his dead father, in hopes of scattering them in the Grand Canyon. Ethan’s naivety borders on stupidity and it grates on Peter’s nerves at every turn throughout their travels and their conflict is actually one of the better parts of the films.
As they travel together they face accidents, share hotel spaces, no place to sleep, little food and money, a broken arm for Peter, detours, and issues with border control crossings. At each stage Peter and Ethan interact in ways that show a deeper side to each of them. Peter does struggle with his temper and his tolerance of people; he knows that and dealing with a nearly unbearable person helps him come to grips with that. Ethan is a dreamer, but he is also a person with little to no social graces and he is also aware that he is a difficult person to be around. Much like John Candy’s character in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Ethan manipulates the situation in order to travel with Peter.
The movie, while enjoyable is far from perfect. Both characters, while strong, skew too far into unlikable territory at times. Peter is truly hateful to Ethan at times and it makes it hard to sympathize with him as the everyman character. Ethan as well is overly crass and in particular there was a masturbation scene that just didn’t fit the tone of the movie. It garnered some laughs from me, but just didn’t seem like it should have been there. The dynamic between the two actors is quite good though and it is easy to get past these issues, but it does make the movie stagger a bit as the story progresses.
Due Date, while fairly predictable in the end, does have some great set pieces and moments while Peter and Ethan travel across the country any way they can. Directed by Todd Phillips as his follow-up film to The Hangover, Due Date is a flawed but fun movie that doesn’t quite hit it out of the park, but is an enjoyable experience all the same.
Due Date looks stunning in a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that is nearly perfect in its presentation. Textures are flawless as are color levels and presented edges. The black levels are great as well but do occasionally (very occasionally) border on murkiness. Aside from that minor flaw the transfer is excellent with the images popping of the screen in a clarity you can almost touch. Warner Bros consistently produces excellent Blu-ray transfers and Due Date is another example of this.
Movies are sometimes made even better with an excellent audio track and Due Date is an example of this, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that is truly excellent. While the soundtrack isn’t bursting with effects, it does have its share of action and crashes that are presented to excellent effect. The surround mix is excellent with ambient noises well produced in the rear speakers and the music and dialogue coming through with perfect clarity. The music is quite good in this film and comes across clearly, but never dilutes the dialogue or action occurring. Again Warner Bros shows that they excel in the technical aspects of Blu-ray production with this near perfect audio mix.
Unfortunately despite this having a hot comedy director and two big names starring in it, this Blu-ray release is very light on bonus content. Shockingly there is no commentary track and really no Blu-ray-specific features to speak off. This seems like a wasted opportunity as it would have been great to hear Philips, Downey Jr. And Galifianakis talk us through the movie. What features there are on the disc are all fairly vanilla and simple.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 minutes): There are only four minutes of these scenes but that is already too long, they have no flow, are not funny and you can get why they were cut.
- Gag Reel (HD, 7 minutes): While enjoyable, this outtake reel is typical and not anything to get terribly excited about.
- Too Many Questions (HD, 1 minute): Ethan is constantly prying into Peter’s life and this is a montage of those questions. This is kind of funny when strung together like this but still a basic extra.
- Action Mash-Up (HD, 1 minute): Montage time, this time looking at the action shots.
- The Complete Two and a Half Men Scene (HD, 3 minutes): Ethan’s successful appearance on his dream job.
- BD-Live Functionality
The Bottom Line
Due Date has some flaws and a shockingly spartan assortment of extras, but it is an entertaining road trip movie with a true odd couple as its stars. The audio and video presentation helps to make the film more enjoyable and it is worth watching for some of the key scenes in the movie. In the end it isn’t a classic, but it is an fun romp across the country.