Movie News & Reviews

'Due Date' easy to watch, but not memorable

You know what? Sometimes, two great tastes don't go great together.

Gin plus tequila equals immediate emetic. Surfing's cool. Giant sharksare very cool. But try teaching a giant shark to surf andyou'll need a drink so bad you'll take a Tanqueray margarita in aheartbeat. Likewise, you should not walk on stilts among a field ofadorable bunnies.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Casting Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis — two of the funniestpeople alive — as the leads in a comedy sounds like an epic win so winfulit could win against the New York Yankees, who field a Godzilla or aFrankenstein at every position. For Due Date, it only sort ofworks.

Downey, Jr. is on schedule to fly home in time for the birth ofhis first kid — until a boarding incident with fellow passenger Galifianakis gets him kicked off the flight and placed on the no-flylist.

Downey's wallet and driver's license get left on the plane, however.Unable to rent a car to get home from Atlanta, he's forced to accept across-country ride from Galifianakis, an obnoxious would-be actor whoseems to foul up everything he touches.

Road trip stories are by nature episodic. Anything you do or anyoneyou meet is swiftly left behind at 70 mph to be replaced by the nextsetback or shenanigan. Of course, this isn't true of classic cavemanroad movies where the characters can spend a full week walking throughthe same flock of hostile pterodactyls, but when it comes to themodern era, you're not going to find a whole ton of dramaticcontinuity.

This is especially true of Due Date, which is often little morethan a feature-length collection of alternating scenes where a)Galifianakis does something to piss Downey off and b) circumstancesconspire to force them to continue traveling together. This isn'tentirely a complaint — like I said, it's part of the genre — but DueDate doesn't help out its case with its plot.

At least its "And then we went here, and found more trouble"structure is populated by dependably funny bit players like DannyMcBride, Juliette Lewis, and RZA. They frequently serve as humorouslyoffensive people for Downey to beat up (Lewis' bratty son) or get beatup by (McBride as a paraplegic veteran).

There's a fair chunk of that There's Something About Mary-styleshock humor in Due Date, and your appreciation for such stuffwill go a long way towards your total laugh count. Otherwise, you'lllikely be kinda lukewarm to it as a comedy.

Galifianakis' devotion to his effete, clueless, stoned incompetent canbe pretty great, but as a hotheaded, put-upon dude with a hot wife anda nice job, Downey's not as funny as normal. Sure, that's like sayingthe fire I fell into last week didn't hurt as bad as the one I tumbledinto in '08, but when you're used to skin grafts the size of circustents and this time you only end up needing some bandages andaloe — wait, I'm almost to my point — it's hard not to be let down.

There may also be some "unpleasant next day-ish feelings" effectfollowing up director Todd Phillips' The Hangover. But whileDue Date is likable and funny enough, its four-man writing teamis sometimes at odds with itself tonally, and between the bunch theycouldn't drum up a compelling plot. Nor do they quite hit the heartthey're aiming for. It's easy to watch. It may not be so easy toremember a few weeks from now.

Grade: B-