Due Date has been heavily advertised as ‘from the director of The Hangover’, hoping to capitalise on the success of Todd Phillips 2009 film. Sadly, Due Date does not rise to the same plane as Phillips’ earlier film, although it desperately tries to.
After he is put on a no-fly list, Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with Ethan Tremblay, the guy responsible for his troubles, in order to get back to Los Angeles in time for the birth of his first child. Although the pair have days to get there, it is a tumultuous journey…
Due Date borrows heavily from the 1987 film Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Due Date takes the premise of John Hughes’ film (two mis-matched companions having to make a long journey in order to make it home for an event) and tweaks only minor elements. Anyone who has seen the 1987 film will recognise the similarities from the very off.
Originality aside, the crucial mistake made by the film is to try and inject too many emotional or more serious moments. The humour in Due Date is sometimes crude but ultimately funny. Yet the filmmakers decided to feature more poignant scenes that just do not gel with this type of comedy. The result is a film that is amusing for the most part, but one that is interrupted by a story that thinks it is necessary to give an emotional layer to its characters. The combination of drama and comedy can work together incredibly well, but Due Date‘s reluctance to play down the emotion may irritate some viewers.
Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis have great chemistry, and are well cast as the odd couple. Downey Jr. does highly strung very well, which is in complete contrast to Galifianakis’ relaxed but annoying Ethan. Juliette Lewis is fun as ever in a minor role.
Phillips direction is good, keeping an appropriate pace and capturing some amusing visual gags, a number of which feature Ethan’s dog. Influence from The Hangover is clear in the soundtrack and the pop culture references.
Due Date is entertaining enough, but its flaws are inescapable. Hopefully the sequel to The Hangover will see a return to form for Phillips.