Going to see movies for me anymore is hit or miss. Most movies I see in the theater are spectacles unto themselves. They are either Oscar candidates, movies I score free tickets to, or hyped franchises/movies I’ve been waiting years. Long gone are the days where I would see almost any movie just for a cinematic experience. It’s a real rarity that I go see something just on whim, however this weekend I had an AMC gift card burning a hole in my pocket. I could have waited to use it on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but instead I used it to see Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover, Old School) latest, Due Date.
Due Date stars Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder, Iron Man) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Dinner with Schmucks). Downey Jr. plays architect Peter Highman, and Galifianakis plays Ethan Tremblay, a struggling actor with dreams of making it big on his favorite TV show, Two and a Half Men. Phillips’ budding bromance has its moments of hilarity, however it runs out of gas (travel related pun) before it can make it to its final destination.
Due to circumstances beyond the means of normalcy, Highman and Tremblay end up driving across country together to fulfill each of their destinies. Highman to witness the birth of his first child; Tremblay to not only make it as an actor, but to come to grips with the recent passing of his father, whose ashes he keeps in a coffee can. Perhaps using a bit of a crutch from their last pairing, Phillips dresses Galifianakis with a small dog that loves to masturbate and get stoned, much like its owner. It’s Due Date’s version of Carlos the Baby, and it’s much less funny.
Due Date draws from the awkwardness that is traveling/living with someone you hardly know. You might wake up and catch your roommate jerking off as Peter does at one point in the movie. It’s a relatable scenario for Phillips’ key demographic, college students. Who hasn’t woken up before one of their friends at a sleep over? Peter wakes up before Tremblay and contemplates leaving him at a rest stop, at one point in the film. The awkward back and forth between both leading guys is amazing. You have Ethan’s childlike mind frame and delusions of grandeur going head to head with Peter’s realistic and often pessimistic viewpoint. This is very evident in a scene where Peter informs Ethan that Hollywood isn’t filled with golden paved streets, but rather washed up actors who never quite made it. Watching Ethan register the idea, come to grips with it, and then get a little sad about it, reminds you of watching a kid who just learned that Santa Claus isn’t real. The mash up of emotions, where the viewer is unsure as to whether laugh or feel sorry for Ethan, is comedic gold early on, however by the end it gets very stale.
Phillips is perhaps best known for his extensive use of cameos in his films. In Old School we get Juliette Lewis, as Mitch’s wife. We also get a cameo from rapper Snoop Dogg, and even Phillips himself, portraying the guy that’s “here for the gang bang.” In The Hangover we received great cameos by Mike Tyson and Michael Epps, the latter as Black Doug. Phillips once again delivers the cameos; this time in bunches.
Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, Eastbound and Down) pops up as an Iraqi War vet who likes to hand out ass whippings before heading off because he has reservations at Chili’s with his boys. RZA, from the Wu Tang clan, shows up as a security screener at the airport with a nose for illicit drugs. Matt Walsh, the bribed doctor from The Hangover, also makes an appearance as an FFA agent. Finally, Phillips and Lewis both reprise their roles from Old School, but this time their weird coupling has them selling medical marijuana from the privacy of their own kitchen. Phillips recently stated in an article with Maxim that he feels the characters he and Lewis play in Due Date are the same characters the duo portrays in Old School, but Sony and Warner Brothers productions feel differently.
The film does however have its share of moments that are totally Phillips. These are the moments where you can’t stop laughing no matter how hard you try. Moments like Will Ferrell running naked in the street during Old School, or finding out that Ed Helms got married to Heather Graham in The Hangover. One such moment includes Jaime Foxx (yet another cameo) using Ethan’s father’s ashes instead of coffee. It’s s near hysterical scene that turns strangely human at the end. Another such scene features Downey Jr’s Peter being stoned off his rocker due to Ethan baking out the SUV they are traveling in. The scene features Pink Floyd, a bear, and the hyperspace graphics from Star Wars. Are both scenes worth the time spent and the money? Probably not. Does that mean that Due Date isn’t watchable? No way.
Just like all cinematic adventures this one ends happily as we get to see Ethan live out his dream of being an actor and see that Peter does make it to Los Angeles to see the birth of his baby. We even learn a few things along the way, like the whole “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” adage. You aren’t missing much though, if you to wait to check this out on DVD. I’m hoping for MUCH better for the highly anticipated Hangover 2.