PASS THE POPCORN: Phillips’ unlikely duo saves an uneven story

by Staff

Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis play nice in ‘Due Date’

By David Dixon, Staff Writer

Those going to see “Due Date” this weekend and expecting something similar to the smash comedy “The Hangover” will be surprised. The film is an uneasy mixture of over-the-top farce and dark humor.

The movie starts with architect Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) meeting a man named Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) at an Atlanta airport. Peter despises Ethan immediately after introducing himself, because Ethan comes across as an idiot who causes unintentional harm to those around him. After several embarrassing incidents, Ethan and Peter are put on the “no-fly list.”

To make it up to Peter, Ethan asks if he would like to join him on a road trip to their intended destination, Los Angeles. Peter agrees, because he thinks Ethan can get him to his LA home in time to see the birth of his first child. For a while, Peter believes he misjudged the obnoxious man-child. Unfortunately, Ethan gets Peter into one nightmarish jam after another, which drives the father-to-be off the deep end.

“Due Date” is a minor effort from a master director of lowbrow hijinks, Todd Phillips. Instead of creating a laugh-a-minute adventure, he experiments with several contrasting styles of comedy. There are strong scenes of verbal dialogue and jokes with a serious undercurrent to them. Phillips struggles with moments that are supposed to elicit big laughs, but instead feel like a lazy attempt to win the audience.

In spite of major directorial flaws, “Due Date” is still worth viewing for two significant reasons. The final 20 minutes make up for the rest of the feature because they contain a hysterical and satisfying ending for the two main characters.

More importantly, the performances of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis are memorable. Though audiences have seen this type of narcissistic-discovering-compassion character from Downey Jr. many times before, Galifianakis is wonderful as the endearing pathetic soul who only wants someone to listen.

“Due Date” has its share of problems, and there is enough strong material to make it worth checking out. The trip may not satisfy all fans of the director, but followers of the main actors should find it entertaining.

Information about “Due Date” can be found at duedatemovie.warnerbros.com.

Movie: Due Date

Distributed by: Warner Bros.

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Release Date: Nov. 5

Grade: B

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