Todd Phillips has been making male no-brainer comedies for quite some time now, with varied results. In 2008, he finally hit the jackpot, Vegas style, with the international phenomenon “The Hangover”. With that success, he took Zach Galifianakis’s bearded, beer-bellied buffoon and made him a comedy God in the eyes of guys everywhere and, while he was at it, made himself a bonafide player.
To the victor go the spoils and Phillips was certainly spoiled when he bagged everyone’s favorite charmer, Robert Downey Jr., opposite the aforementioned buffoon (Galifianakis) for his buddy road comedy “Due Date”. He’s got the pedigree at his disposal – Downey Jr. doesn’t even have to try to get high-strung, expectant father Peter Highman down and even Galifianakis has been around enough blocks now to inject a little subtlety into his performance as wannabe actor Ethan Tremblay – but, just like so much of Phillips’s past work, the antics are all too often just plain stupid instead of stupidly hilarious. It doesn’t help either that Ethan is so awkward at times that he goes from funny to the dreaded realm of uncomfortable.
To buy into “Due Date”, which has decent laughs but very few uproarious moments, you have to buy the really weak chain of events that sets the premise in motion. Peter ends up on a no-fly list after he and Ethan say words like “terrorist” and “bomb” a little too loud on a plane. Peter’s wife (Michelle Monaghan) is giving birth in a few days so he must get home somehow. With his wallet still on the plane, he must accept the offer to ride with Ethan and his masturbating dog, Sonny. Sure his wife could have certainly bought him a train ticket home on-line, but then we wouldn’t get to see these two polar opposites bond by living through several near-death experiences that wouldn’t have otherwise happened had they not gotten into this mess to begin with. Fortunately, the guys that Phillips is aiming for will buy into anything.
Review by Joseph Bélanger