Road trip movies are a veritable institution in Hollywood. Since It Happened One Night (and probably well before that), filmmakers have been getting laughs out of what happens when you put two grossly incompatible people in a car together. Due Date follows the decades-old formula, pitting Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis against each other as they travel across the country. While the movie brings nothing new to the genre, Due Date is an enjoyable, if not raunchy, comedy flick.
The film stars Downey as Peter Highman, a high-strung businessman about to fly to Los Angeles to be with his wife as they expect their first baby. But this is a comedy, and as the age-old rule about the genre implies, things do not go as planned. At the airport, he meets the overly-friendly Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) and his dog, Sonny. Misadventures (the kind that would kill a normal person) ensue.
Due Date is at times uncomfortably funny. As with many comedies of late, the film aims to get a number of laughs through grossing out its audience and touching on a number of taboo topics. It succeeds, for the most part. Ethan plays an early role in disgusting viewers as he shoves his bare, very hairy, potbelly into Peter's face while trying to stow his carryon. It doesn't sound gross, but you probably haven't seen the man's stomach.
Galifianakis delivers just the performance you would expect here, but that isn't a bad thing at all. His scraggly beard, curly hair and generally unkempt appearance have almost become a trademark for him. In Due Date he is a hilariously dim-witted mess; unstoppable in his quest to be an actor. In addition, he is so unflappable in his desire to be pals with the world at large that he forgets societal norms, irking everyone in the process. Even worse, he asks questions. All the time.
Here Downey plays the straight man, a role that suits him admirably. His quick one-liners, often muttered under his breath, are a perfect foil to the physical comedy of his counterpart. Throughout, anger seems to boil just under the surface, and when it comes to a head his explosions are a hoot.
"I despise who you are on a cellular level," Peter hisses.
"OK, I've heard that before, and I'm trying to work on it," Ethan replies, clutching Sonny to his chest.
Peter won't have it, though. He spits on them both and storms off, leaving Ethan standing on the sidewalk in shock and indignation.
The movie is directed by Todd Phillips, who also directed the 2009 smash hit The Hangover. Like his previous film, Due Date is filled with over-the-top sequences, sharp humor with a share of gross-out laughs mixed in, and the sense that even when things get out of control, they can only get worse.
Due Date is a cringe-worthy comedy with decent laughs. It may not be the riot The Hangover was, but the jokes are funny and there is enough chaos to make you appreciate that passenger of yours just a little bit more.
Josh Snyder is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a senior at Arizona State University.