Most of us would love to have been the proverbial fly on the wall when director Todd Phillips and his gang of writers crafted The Hangover.
It’s easy to imagine free flowing alcohol — or whatever — and so much laughing it hurts. A different kind of hurt hits Due Date, Phillips first effort after last year’s funniest film.
He enlists the aid of two TV writers and one responsible for the screenplay and the story for 2008’s awful Made of Honor. Everything that is wrong with a script written by committee is found in Due Date.
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You can start with the four writers basically ripping off the 1987 classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Comparing the two films is “auto”matic. That pun is horrible, but it’s considerably funnier than most of what you’ll find in Due Date. Both are Thanksgiving movies.
Robert Downey Jr. does roughly the same cranky character Steve Martin did in the much better movie. As Peter Highman, he is in a hurry to get home to Los Angeles and a wife about ready to have their first child.
Zach Galifianakis gets the unenviable task of trying to one-up John Candy’s best-ever work. His Ethan Tremblay is a portable disaster area on his way to Hollywood to become a movie star.
To give Phillips and his gaggle of writers a little bit of credit, early on they do offer some loose and fast humor at Downey’s expense. A great straight-faced comedian, Downey goes along and nails a couple of zingers starting with drug paraphernalia at an airport. Then there is his character’s practically prophetic last name.
Other than that, and one very funny — and quite embarrassing — masturbation scene, Due Date’s a dud.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated R for language, mature themes, sex. It opens Friday, Nov. 5 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.