Movie Review: DUE DATE

Due Date left me flummoxed, much like how Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Peter, feels towards Zach Galifianakis’s Ethan in the movie. While I didn’t think it was a complete wreck, I did find it chaotic and not very funny, a small problem for a comedy. It’s more mature—if only slightly—than director and co-writer Todd Phillips’s previous endeavor, The Hangover, but that’s not saying much since I thought that movie was a laughter-free showcase of men behaving like morons.

Peter is an architect trying to make it home from a business trip to his pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) who’s about to give birth. After a couple of disruptive encounters with Ethan at the airport, the two end up on the no-fly list so the only option is to drive from Atlanta to Los Angeles together. They encounter all sorts of outrageousness along the way, mostly because of Ethan (surprise!), but in the end come to a better understanding of each other.

Wow, I got bored just now writing that synopsis. It sounds tired because it resembles the basic plot of all the road movies that have come before—much better ones. Though Galifianakis seems to be a favorite of Phillips’s, Date‘s one saving grace is undoubtedly Downey. His Peter is our link to sanity as we travel through the Crazytown in which Ethan lives. Without Downey’s grounding presence, I wouldn’t have been able to tolerate Ethan, who is imbecilic, annoying and strange for strange’s sake. Galifianakis is not a bad actor; he handles Ethan’s few quiet moments well. I’ve just never been amused by the actor’s schlubby shtick. The best comedy is rooted in reality, with an ounce of truth viewers can relate to, but Galifianakis’s characters might as well be aliens considering how weird they are. His act is predictable and he’ll be typed as a one-trick pony if he doesn’t re-invent himself soon.

Elsewhere, Monaghan doesn’t have much to do besides talking to Downey on the phone and Jamie Foxx shows up in a small role as Downey’s friend. Perhaps the movie would have been much more enjoyable if Phillips had given these charismatic actors more screen time instead of spending so much of it on Ethan’s antics.

Nerd verdict: Let’s hope there’s no second Date

Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Poncho
    November 5, 2010 at 1:53 am

    I’ve always thought as Galifianakis as a one-trick-pony. I mean, all his characters are gruffy, weed-smoking, pseudo-hippies that say the same jokes over and over again. I mean. Even stoner jokes get old.

    I was planning on seeing the movie just for Downey being there, but now I think I’ll wait until it airs on cable.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Duncan
    November 5, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Sounds as if John Candy and Steve Martin did it better.

  • Reply
    NovelWhore
    November 5, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I really want to see this movie (correction, my bf really wants to see this movie and got me excited too) but your review tempered my anticipation. I tend to not like dumb men, which many of these movies seem to embrace.

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    November 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I’m still gonna see it because of RDJ, but I sounds like I might leave and walk into Hereafter. LOL!

    On another note: Seems like Will Farrell, Zach Galifianakis and Seth Rogen never really noticed what happened to Jim Carrey’s career. He started out funny, but then just became ridiculous and now irrelevant. Then again, audiences are still lining up to pay money for Jackass 3-D. I used to rationalize that reality by thinking I’m too old, but lately I think it’s because I am educated.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    November 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Poncho—His jokes aren’t just old, they’re pre-historic.

    Elizabeth—Yes.

    NovelWhore—Um, I don’t think this movie will help you find movie cohesion.

    EIREGO—Well said. Can’t argue with any of that.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    November 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    You know I’ll watch this because of Robert Downey Jr., but it sounds like that’s about the only reason I’ll be watching it. I’ll wait until it’s out on DVD, though. Handy for pausing for long periods… Thanks for the excellent heads-up as always, PCN. Have a beautiful weekend!

  • Reply
    Christine
    November 8, 2010 at 5:38 am

    One of my sisters saw this film. She said it was one of those times that she’d already seen most of the funnier scenes/lines in the trailers. I hate when that happens!

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