Nasty, cruel and vulgar: Due Date

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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.

1/10

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.

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

11 Comments

  1. avatar

    lol @ this review. I seriously thought you were joking. I haven’t seen it but the inclusion of drugs, child abuse and spitting on dogs has made me want to. On the plus side your moral compass is pointing firmly in the direction of the Daily Mail so I guess there’s a career in journalism out for there you.

  2. avatar

    *out there for you. Clearly not for me! In all seriousness why would anyone go and watch a film from the director of the Hangover, featuring the main comedic actor from the Hangover, and be disappointed that it was, in your words, “just as obnoxious” as that film? You should be reviewing it on its merits, not berating it for being exactly what everyone expected it to be. Perhaps writing an article on the moral depravity of 21st Century film (lol) would be a more appropriate avenue to air your views, but this review is useless to people thinking about seeing the film. Most of them will probably like this sense of humour – which is all your review talks about really. I don’t like horror films but I don’t review them and state “too scary” or “when will Hollywood’s appetite for gore end? :(” because these things are fundamental to the type of film in question. Likewise, aiming to make the audience laugh is the object of a comedy, and a lot of other films in the genre employ similar gross out, “race to the bottom” techniques. The aforementioned Hangover, South Park and Team America (to name a few) are all these types of films. People will see this expecting this kind of film. It’s obviously not to everyone’s tastes but giving it a 1/10 on the strength of your review is poor. I hope you heed my teachings when it comes to writing your next review, I look forward to reading it.

    • avatar

      The point of a reviewer is to watch a wide variety of movies and then comment using their opinions. If every writer just said this movie is exactly what I thought it would be, then there would be no point writing reviews.

      Also if you believe the author of the above review has a leaning toward the Daily Mail I would ask: have you read the review or just skimmed the title? Next time don’t write cutting “advice” to a true reviewer.

    • avatar

      Yeah, okay, so maybe the reviewer didn’t like the film. That’s the beauty of being a critic. It’s all opinion. There’s no black or white when it comes to reviewing stuff like this. If the critic’s moral compass doesn’t agree with yours, then you don’t actually have to pay attention to what they say.

      On a related note, you sir, seem to me like a conceited prick. Heed your teachings? Yeah right. What teachings? You’re as one sided as the author that you’re criticising. Given your closed minded nature and inherent ability to slate, I’m sure you could be the next AA Gill. Probably not though, you’d probably be lucky to be the next Piers Morgan.

  3. avatar

    lol @ the avenger, what are you a superhero? easy to insult someone when they don’t know who you are 🙂 Also the other guy who felt he had to save the day, read what I have to write very carefully, you may just learn something.

    “If every writer just said this movie is exactly what I thought it would be, then there would be no point writing reviews.” This is not what I said. At all. I said that the film should be judged on its merits. What he did was just give an opinion with no attempt to appraise the film in its actual context. To break it down for you, it’s the reason magazines like Kerrang! don’t review dance music, for example. The reviewers there review rock/metal music because they have a LIKE for the genre in general and can distinguish (to their taste) between “good” and “bad” records. What this reviewer did was point out things about the GENRE that he doesn’t like i.e. he reviewed “morally reprehensible content in comedy films” instead of the actual film itself – you could transpose any of his criticisms to a plethora of other comedy films and you wouldn’t notice the difference. As a result, his review if of 0 use of anyone who was thinking of going to see the film. Of course I’m not saying you can’t write a negative review of the film but that’s not what he did, and if this time you people read my comment nice and slowly you’ll find it makes perfect sense.

    “On a related note, you sir, seem to me like a conceited prick. Heed your teachings? Yeah right. What teachings?”

    See Above.

  4. avatar
    Hadley Middleton on

    I think that’s really unfair Dhanesh.You are being extremely arrogant. It’s the reviewers right to give their opinion, and in all honesty, I’m pretty certain I would be disgusted by this film too. At least ‘Team America’ is making a satirical comment about the state of present-day America, it’s not as vapid as ‘Due Date’. Comparisons between them are impossible – Team America had a clear intention to expose the hypocrisy of America.

    I don’t understand why you insist on criticising the work of others so often. What’s wrong with you?

    • avatar

      All I can say is at least my criticism isn’t personally offensive. “What’s wrong with you”, “sanctimonious prick”? Seriously , it’s just my thoughts on his review. Might as well remove the comments feature if you’re going to complain every time I make a comment.

      “Team America’ is making a satirical comment about the state of present-day America”

      What part of present-day America was the barbie doll porn satirising then? Even the creators themselves have said that not everything they do has a deep meaning and that sometimes they do stuff just to get a laugh.I feel my comments were constructive. Countless comedies have incorporated drug use. Harold and Kumar? Spitting on a dog’s face? Surely not “worse” than sex with an apple pie (American Pie)? The point is that the thing’s he’s “outraged” over aren’t worse than anything else in the genre. The fact that no one else has dramatically pulled this film up for its content shows that its pretty much par for the course in terms of this type of film. There’s nothing wrong with not liking this type of humour but using this catch-all dislike to harshly rate a film in that genre is wrong. It’s like reviewing a Tarrantino film and complaining about excessive violence.

      Also, I think my criticism was constructive. I even suggested he write an article about it – as we heard in the meeting, Features gets the least submissions! You should be thanking me 🙂

      I honestly don’t know how I can make my point any better. If you still manage to take personal offence to this Hadley I’m sorry but it’s an opinionated article so he should expect opinionated responses!

      • avatar
        Ciarán McManus on

        I’m on Hadley’s side Dhanesh. I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt ’cause I’ve met you in person and listened to your radio show and you seemed like a nice guy, but you do indeed come off as a “sanctimonious prick” in your responses to this review. Criticism being constructive is one thing, but to refer to them as “teachings” is the mark of a tosser. They may well have been well-intended but they weren’t presented as such. Just be mindful of this, that’s all I’m saying x

        Ps. It also helps to see the film before passing comment.

        • avatar

          Yeah ok the way I said it was probably a bit stupid but I still feel my point was correct. If the point of a review is for it to act as a reference point for those deciding whether to watch a film or not, I don’t feel this is suitable. He used this review as an opportunity to take issue with Hollywood’s portrayal of drug use, and vaguely referenced it back to the film without really telling us much at all. Ditto with the punching the kid and spitting at a dog.

          “The plot is all over the place, the running time is far too generous for such a dull screenplay ” If he had expanded THIS content, and told us WHY the plot was all over the place, or why the screenplay was dull, then it would be a review. At the moment it’s just a vehicle for him to talk about how he doesn’t approve of a certain style of comedy which is in no way exclusive to this film.

          • avatar

            Thank-you to all the responses to this review. I knew when I wrote it that my opinion on the film would not be shared by everyone, and I welcome any alternative views from those who have seen the film.

            In response to Dhanesh’s criticisms of my review, I would like to say that I was reviewing the film in the context of its genre (the crude, daring comedy/road trip feature), not the genre itself. I promise you that I am not someone who dislikes a film purely because of the genre it belongs to. I presented my view on the film as it stands within that genre, and in my opinion (bearing in mind that’s all I offer) I do not feel the film ranks very highly in it.

            I believe the “crude” comedy genre is important in Hollywood – shock tactics really can work, and there have been a cluster of films that have done this very well. David Wain’s film Role Models, for example, was hilarious and entertaining. I think it is a great film within its genre. I was not criticising Due Date for being a crude comedy; I was criticising it for being “nasty, cruel and vulgar”. Without effective humour (as displayed in comedies such as Role Models and American Pie) vulgarity becomes just that – vulgar. Although many other films feature antics some may consider sick or repulsive, it is rare they feature the same levels of nastiness as Due Date. One example Dhanesh cites as comparable to Downey Jr. spitting in a dog’s face (baring in mind he, as admitted in his first comment, has not seen Due Date) is the scene in American Pie where a central character has sex with an apple pie. Although opinions may differ as to the decency of the two scenes, the one in American Pie is not fuelled by hatred or cruelty. The scene in Due Date, however, invites us to laugh at a man’s abusive treatment to another man and his dog, the same way it expects us to laugh at Downey Jr. thumping a child in the stomach. There is clearly a difference in tone and presentation between the two films.
            As to the claim that nobody else has pulled this film up on its content, this is not true. Other reviews and publications have voiced similar concerns. A stroll round Rotten Tomatoes would shows that it fails their ‘Tomotometer’, receiving just a 40% approval rating, with an extensive collection of reviews that found fault with the movie. The Daily Telegraph labels the film “needlessly crude”, the Daily Mail’s Chris Tookey (who also awarded the film 1 out of 10), after describing some of the most repugnant scenes of the film, concludes: “Tragically, that is what passes for humour these days”. And this is from a man who awarded The Hangover a 9/10 rating. Although The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wasn’t as opposed to the film as I was, he too comments on the misjudged nature of the scene which depicts violence towards a minor. Film magazine Empire also attaches the word “nasty” to the film. I could go on, but I am just trying to make it clear I am not alone in my views on Due Date.

            Dhanesh is right; my review put forward a strong and, it seems, controversial opinion, and I do not object to strong responses. But I also thank those who rose to my defence, objecting to the way Dhanesh chose to express his problems with my review.

            I would like to add that I wholeheartedly welcome people opposing my opinions (discussion is what makes cinema such a joy!), and look forward to further comments on my other reviews in the future.

          • avatar

            I see that’s cool I probably read your review a little too dramatically 🙂 I genuinely look forward to your next one.

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