I originally hadn’t paid much attention to this road-trip comedy on its initial release and it quickly faded from memory as it exited the theaters. I just stumbled across it again and, based on my respect for Robert Downey Jr., decided to give it a shot. Given that I really had NO idea what to expect from the flick as a whole…I was pleasantly surprised. I easily laughed out loud at least a half dozen times. The writing is fairly crisp, especially in the well-timed, ‘jousting’ line deliveries between RDJr. and El Beardo Zach Galifianakis. In many respects, Due Date reminded me of 1987s (still) superb ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’; the largest comparison being simply the overall story. Once again, the audience is treated to the concept of the ‘straight man’ being involuntarily saddled up with an obnoxious ‘opposite’ to get from Point A to Point B, on a tight schedule. Here, RDJr is trying to get back to LA in time for his wife to give birth to their first child. Through a series of shitty circumstances, his destiny becomes entangled with Galifianakis’ ‘freakish loser’ character. Much like ‘P,T and A’, Due Date has a heart just beneath the crude and injurious comedic veneer. However, there is a notable difference. While the ’87 film maintained a steady and smooth trajectory toward the heart-warming connection between the two protagonists, Due Date is more scattershot and uneven in its approach. One element that made this approach somewhat ‘blocky’ was the fact that the Galifianakis character is SUCH an obnoxious trainwreck of a human being that I was actively willing JBJr. to punch the idiot in the face, on more than one occasion. And in the instances where he was on the verge of FINALLY escaping the dog-toting freaks clutches, he ends up going back; usually fuelled by sentimentality or guilt. I wanted to yell at the screen: “NO, RDJr.!! You’re SO close to freedom!!! Just RUN, man!!” But then the bickering between the two fired up again and my chuckling overrode the frustration. So, in a nutshell, this is another hilarious Robert Downey Jr. role, reasonably well off-set by Galifianakis’ dumbass (but effective) character. Most of the comedic ‘beats’ and hijinks work, despite some evident and clumsy changes in tone and character motivation (and a slightly ‘off’ sense of ‘mean’, at times). Due Date is a perfectly disposable piece of comedy that has enough effective humor to NOT waste your time as you check it out.
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