When a film hits it big, such as last summer’s breakout comedy hit, The Hangover, everyone wants to try and replicate that success. Due Date reunites The Hangover director, Todd Phillips, with the bumbling co-star of that film, Zach Galifianakis and it looks to recapture some of the magic that made the two such hot Hollywood commodities over the last year and they do this all with the help of Robert Downey Jr.
Due Date is at its core a road trip gone wrong movie. Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) is attempting to get home to his pregnant wife, who is set to have a C-Section in a few days. Things go bad right off the bat for him though from the moment he reaches the airport and after a series of unfortunate events he ends up on a no fly list and is forced to buddy-up with the enigmatic wanna-be actor, Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis). The absurd circumstances are supposed to make everyone laugh but instead of having me holding my gut for fear of busting it, I just felt kind of uncomfortable during most of them and judging by the audience reaction, I wasn’t alone in my discomfort.
There is a chance that director Todd Phillips got just a tad bit too much credit for the success of The Hangover. That is not to say that his direction was bad but more the fact that comedy is so reliant on the jokes and their delivery. As a director, Phillips can only do so much with the material he is handling, if it is not inherently funny, no amount of direction can help make it so.
The same goes for Galifianakis and Downey Jr., both of whom give fine performances, they just aren’t very funny performances. Downey Jr. in particular plays the straight man to a tea. He is believable in nearly every scene and Galifianakis generally plays well off of this as the bumbling buffoon, sadly the material just is not funny.
Jokes about child neglect, driving under the influence, interracial adultery, immigration, and disabled veterans all fall flat. I don’t think I can remember a film that had so many jokes just miss the mark. Sure there are some laughs and when the humor actually does work Due Date can be quite funny, those laughs however, are so few and far between or tinged with awkwardness that it is hard to recommend the film to anyone.
Due Date is going to do well at the box office based on those involved in the production but do not be fooled, this is not the second coming of The Hangover, not even close. Do yourself a favor and save a couple dollars by re-watching The Hangover instead.
2 out of 5.