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DUE DATE (director/writer: Todd Phillips; screenwriters: Alan R. Cohen/Alan Freedland/Adam Sztykiel/based on a story by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Freedland; cinematographer: Lawrence Sher; editor: Debra Neil-Fisher; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Peter Highman), Zach Galifianakis (Ethan Tremblay), Michelle Monaghan (Sarah Highman), Jamie Foxx (Darryl), Juliette Lewis (Heidi), Jakob Ulrich (Patrick), Danny McBride (Lonnie), RZA (Airport Screener); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Todd Phillips/Dan Goldberg; Warner Brothers Pictures; 2010)
“Mismatched buddy film takes us through a lot of familiar Apatow turf, whose low-brow formulaic comedy antics are getting stale with overuse.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Todd Phillips(“School for Scoundrels”/”The Hangover“/”Starsky & Hutch”) directs this downbeat slapstick road comedy, whose crude juvenile humor is only funny in patches and the humor always seems forced. The mismatched buddy film takes us through a lot of familiar Apatowturf, whose low-brow formulaic comedy antics are getting stale with overuse and turning off many because of its superficiality and lack of insight on the human condition. It’s based on a story by Alan R. Cohen and is written by Cohen, Alan Freedland and Adam Sztykiel.

Uptight Type-A workaholic successful architect Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is in Atlanta on business and is rushing home by plane to Los Angeles to be there when his expectant wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) will give birth by C-section. Things go awry when aspiring actor, the bumbling loser misfit Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), in Atlanta to attend his beloved father’s funeral, is on the same flight but manages to get them kicked-off the flight by talking loudly about bombs and terrorists. When the straitlaced Peter is put on the no-fly list after released and his wallet, I.D. and luggage are missing, we’re asked to believe that this sober professional man believes he has no choice but accept a cross-country ride in a rental car with the swishy jerk, sporting a had perm and showing no acting ability, who caused his predicament.

On the road the humor brings on such laughs as Peter punching an unruly young girl in the stomach, pothead Ethan making a legal medicine pot buy in Birmingham for his glaucoma from the white-trash seller (Juliette Lewis), Peter getting beat up by an enraged Western Union clerk wheel-chair bound redneck survivor of the Iraqi War (Danny McBride), Peter having to sleep in the car while both Sonny the dog and Ethan masturbate before going to sleep, surviving a car crash when Ethan nods out behind the wheel, drinking coffee made from Ethan’s father’s ashes that were carried in a coffee canand escaping from a drug arrest by the Mexican border guards who have picked them up for pot possession when they mistakenly try to cross the border.

In the end, the pair reach Hollywood and we are led to believe that despite all the physical and mental hardships endured by Peter, a bond has been established between the dopey grasping man-child and the harried married man. It felt like TV sitcom (it even has an homage scene in the end to TV’s Two and a Half Men) with contrived scenes and characters (all that was missing were the laugh-tracks), and with the goofy overbearing Galifianakis character becoming increasingly more irritating than funny. The comedy tries to channel ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles,’ but never manages to please as much as that flawed bitter-sweet road comedy. What ‘Due Date’ has going for it, is a good selection of classic rock music in the background. That helps pass the time when the journey home hits some bumps on the road.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”