Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis team up for a cross-country romp in the raunchy comedy Due Date, directed by Old School director Todd Phillips. It’s his first film since the sleeper hit, The Hangover (2009). Released November 5, the film has grossed more than $70 million domestically and more than $60 million internationally, garnering mixed to negative reviews.
This is the second time that Phillips has teamed up with Galifianakis for a bromance comedy, this time with a little more punch and raunch than “Hangover.” Zach plays Ethan, an odd loner who recently lost his father and is traveling to Los Angeles to become an actor in the sitcom Two and a Half Men. Downey, Jr. plays Peter, a very high-strung businessman desperate to get home to his pregnant wife before a planned C-section and the delivery of his first child. When an unexpected encounter on a scheduled flight lands both characters on the no-fly list — and Peter without his wallet or any identification — they team up to drive a rental car the distance.
The film certainly provides an adequate number of laughs to satisfy the typical audience, usually due to Peter’s disbelief over his traveling partner’s awkward demeanor and lack of wisdom. But the film is not without flaws, some serious enough to warrant outright confusion.
Ethan, in a role that you would traditionally expect to garner significant sympathy, occasionally behaves in ways that seem outright malicious, most notably when, after Peter’s emotional monologue about his absent father, he remarks with heavy laughter that his father “would never do that; he loved me.”
Similarly, while Peter’s character is certainly expected to be unhappy with his circumstance, he often comes off so violently unpleasant and cruel that it is hard to believe the eventual reconciliation between the two protagonists. Often I found myself wishing for mayhem on Peter for his outbursts (once he even spits on Ethan’s pet dog).
Parts of the film are fraught with vulgar language, while others are especially explicit, including a scene of singular sexuality that will leave you with a permanent and unpleasant memory of Galifianakis that may last well into his next few film forays. Combined with the acerbic main cast, the few attempts at touching and emotional scenes seem terribly misplaced. This was most evident when, in a moment that was likely meant to be moving as Ethan releases his father’s ashes over the Grand Canyon to a soft melody of “Amazing Grace,” many of my fellow audience members found themselves laughing. It didn’t fit with the rest of the film.
Overall, I give the film a 6/10 and hope that Phillips can rediscover the wit and charm that brought forth the very successful and funny Hangover as he reconvenes with Galifianakis to film the forthcoming sequel, taking place in Thailand and scheduled to be released in 2011. Meanwhile, Downey, Jr. is slated to next appear in the Sherlock Holmes sequel, being released in December of 2011.