The considerable comedic talents of Robert Downey Jnr and Zack Galifianakis are largely squandered despite best efforts from all and sundry in Due Date, a good-natured on the road odd couple comedy from The Hangover director Todd Phillips.
Flying home for his wife’s birth, slick sharp-mouthed architect Peter Highman (Downey Jnr) accidently crosses paths with aspiring actor and bumbling gasbag Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) and spends the rest of the movie trying (and failing) to escape Ethan’s dopey clutches. An amusing incident on board a plane puts both characters names on the “no fly” list, neatly grounding them for the rest of the story. Having misplaced his wallet, Peter with no better option jumps in Ethan’s rental car in the hope of getting home in time to witness his child’s birth.
The screenplay is a blatant rip-off (or if you like, a “homage”) of John Hughes 1987 classic Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
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Downey plays the straight guy, the Steve Martin to Zack’s John Candy – an insufferable friend-less loudmouth with a soft and squiggly core underneath the rolls of flab and faux pas.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with either Downey Jnr or Galifianakis’ performances. Their characters linger with you a hell of a lot longer than any of the jokes.
However, time after time Phillips’ execution falls short of the mark. The many scenes obviously intended to be belly-ups raise only a giggle or two and the storyline’s absence of a developed plot and good supporting characters takes its toll. Having said that, the characters are endearing and their presence enjoyable for the most part.
In short: right people, wrong movie.
Due Date’s Australian theatrical release date: November 25, 2010.