Due Date

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"Holy Moses, it's like I'm traveling with a child! "


After watching the Hangover 3 trailer I had a hankering to watch a Todd Phillips movie. After failing to find any of the DVD's for the previous Wolf Pack outings I decided to sit through Due Date (which was streaming on Love film). When I first saw this film in the cinema I didn't care for it but on occasion, things can play better at home (especially comedies). Due Date managed the opposite. I hate this movie.

Peter Highman (Robert Downey, Jr.) attempts to return home to Los Angeles (after a business trip to Atlanta) quite urgently as his wife is about to give birth to his first child. After a misunderstanding he ends up on the no fly zone lacking any funds for his trip. Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) offers Peter a lift as he himself is on his way to Hollywood the only problem being Ethan is a crazy son of a bitch.

Let's get one of the main criticisms out of the way at the start. Due Date is essentially a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles switching the Thanksgiving rush (it's no coincidence Due Date was released in November) to the birth of a child. For me it's not really an issue as this movie is the perfect example of how a remake should be (I'm not saying it's a good movie). A remake should only use the most basic ideas and present its own story (I know Due Date is not an actual remake). That and the fact that the story is just a set up for a series of vignettes while having an end goal. I mention this because so you are aware that I went into the film intending to enjoy it. I liked the trailer and sat down without a chip on my shoulder.

The issue I have with the film is not the humour, which I can see is well crafted and timed brilliantly but the tone and development of our two leads. Downey's Peter is highly strung due to the stresses of work and the imminent birth of his child while that's understandable the script fails to present him in a light that is relatable. Highly confrontational and condescending he speaks down to the entire cast in a way that shows him as socially inept. It's hard to care for such an individual and his plight to get home.

Then we come to Ethan (Galifianakis) who is a bumbling man child. I get the need for a catalyst to the films events but this truly is a grotesque who displays behaviour of a clear mental disability. The character is inconsistent flipping from damaged to wide eyed innocence. Its hard to know how to react to his shenanigans and even harder to anticipate how the characters in the film should (more often than not poorly).

As the movie continued I expected the characters to grow allowing them to become more likable but the reverse happened. In fact the film makes Peter more and more aggressive to a point where I no longer wanted to be in his company. The tipping point came from the characters first major pit stop.

The scene in question was one that I was looking forward to after seeing it in the trailer. After dealing with an annoying child Peter strikes him. I'm a fan of offensive shock comedy and we can all attest to how annoying children can be (not that anyone of sane mind would really hit a kid for being annoying). When the scene rolled around it presented a horrible scenario that tipped the film into an area for me that it could never recover from. Rather than a goofy slapstick moment it presented a horribly unfair real world scenario of neglected kids.

Stopping at a drug dealers house (so Ethan can buy pot) 2 kids are dumped on Peter by their mother. If that wasn't bad enough one of the kids actually begs Peter to take them with him when he leaves. Suggesting that these kids are experiencing child abuse is not funny and is presented in a grimy realistic fashion. One of the kids then starts to misbehave it's kind of excusable and more a a cry for help so when Peter decides to strike the kid its actually horrific adding to the children's abuse.

At no point can the character be redeemed, (he even follows this up by threatening to return and hurt them some more if they tell) he feels no remorse at leaving them in a dire situation. This is not a person who deserves to ever have children so I can't get on board with the birth of his first born. Things escalate as the movie goes on as he even abuses innocent animals (he spits in the face of a dog for no reason) and to an extent Ethan.

As I mentioned prior Ethan is a man child and while his actions are quite deplorable its horrible to watch the characters threaten to beat and/or kill him. Either innocent or mentally challenged its clear to see this is not a normal individual such reactions are moot and make the aggressors look unreasonable.

And that's the issue throughout, everything is unreasonable in the context its presented. If much the film was taking place in a more artificial world it could have been played off as a goofy slapstick gross out movie. It would have been easier to distance yourself from the leads as even the universe was unrelatable. It was clearly aiming for a hyper aggressive reality (like that presented in Curb your Enthusiasm) but as it stands the world was too real for the humour to work.

Just because I felt the characterisations didn't quite work I can admit that both Downey and Galifianakis gave really great performances. The reason I hated their characters so much was because they felt realistic showing a range of depth. That and the fact that their chemistry worked so at times the banter between them amusing (I'd like to see them in a better movie together).

"Why is your dad in a coffee can" "Because he's dead Peter" Even with my dislike for the leads they do deliver some great lines of dialogue which may be enough to justify a watch. There are a lot of great moments sprinkled throughout which raised my overall disappointment as I could see a better film trying to get out.

I know a lot will not understand my stance on Due Date and will use the excuse it because it's a comedy but I have never bought into that when it comes to film. Humour is not a get out of jail free card. If you produce a piece of shit and hand it to me with a smile on your face it's still a piece of shit. Due Date was a horrible experience that I never want to sit through again.

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director:Todd Phillips
Screenplay: Alan R. Cohen
Alan Freedland
Released: 2010
Rating: 15
Starring:Robert Downey Jr.
Zach Galifianakis
Michelle Monaghan