Due Date isn’t cool, funny or remotely entertaining. It’s derivative, cruel and tragically unfunny. Directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind The Hangover, this is just as obnoxious as his previous film but without any of the occasional moments of humour. This is free from laughs, unless you find child abuse hilarious and drug-driving a laughing matter.
Robert Downey Jr. (taking a break from playing Iron Man) and Zach Galifianakis (the one with the beard from The Hangover) are two men forced to travel across America together when they are banned from flying. They do not know each other, but after two unfortunate run-ins at the airport and then on the plane (which culminates in Downey Jr. getting shot for saying the word ‘bomb’), they have little option but to travel to L.A. by road in a rented car. Downey Jr. is reserved, professional-looking and is desperate to get back home to his pregnant wife in time for her to give birth (yes, that’s where the title comes from). Galifianakis wants to go to Hollywood to become an actor.
Along the way they endure several mishaps and difficulties. These have mostly been plundered from other comedies, but the most clear source material is the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles, only with less heart and more drug abuse.
Yes, the illegal drug use. There seems to be some kind of campaign in Hollywood at the moment to portray drug taking as a risk-free hobby; something everyone should indulge in to prove they are cool, fun and down-to-earth. Well, I am sorry if I show up my uncoolness by feeling this way, but I see this as deeply irresponsible, particularly when driving while smoking marijuana is presented as a humorous event with no visible tinge of irony. Unless you count the fact that the more responsible of the pair, Downey Jr.’s character, seems to enjoy the hit as much as his cannabis-dependent friend.
The other nasty moment is when Mr Downey Jr. punches the child of a drug dealer in the stomach so hard the minor writhes around on the floor gasping for an extended period of time. Just to drive home the comedy power of violence towards kids, he threatens to hurt the child again if he tells his mother what he did to him. Later on, he spits in a dog’s face; another moment intended by the filmmakers to be hilarious, but comes across as malicious and vulgar.
The plot is all over the place, the running time is far too generous for such a dull screenplay and there is too much viciousness thrown between characters (homophobic, abusive and just downright offensive) for any ‘heart-warming’ final moment to lighten the mood. This is bleak nasty stuff. Do not see it.
Good: The two leads are undeniably good actors. That’s about it.
Bad: It’s just another depressing reminder of just how low comedy will stoop.