“Due Date” begins with a bad dream and eventually feels like one. Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) wakes up after having a nightmare about his wife going into labor. He knows it’s just a dream but he’s still nervous about the upcoming birth of his first child. Soon enough, he has more to be nervous about when he is forced to drive across the country with a quirky stranger. “Due Date” has a solid premise and plenty of opportunities for laughs but it fails to take advantage of them.
Todd Phillips directed this new comedy that reunites him with Zach Galifianakis. Galifianakis had a breakout role in Phillips’ 2009 smash hit “The Hangover” and the two try to replicate the same success in “Due Date.” Like “The Hangover,” “Due Date” has a fairly conventional premise: two incompatible strangers are forced to spend a lot of time together and comedy ensues.
The two men are Peter Highman and Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), who meet at an Atlanta airport. Peter is anxiously awaiting his trip back to California for the birth of his child. Outside the airport, Peter and Ethan have a brief encounter. On the plane, they see each other again and the two get into a heated discussion. An incident occurs and both men are eventually kicked off of the plane. Peter later learns that he has been added to the no-fly list and can’t travel home by plane.
He then decides to rent a car but he left his identification on the plane. Ethan drives by in his rented car and offers Peter a ride, which he begrudgingly accepts. Ethan seems like a personable fellow but he is a little strange. He brags about the ninety friends he has on Facebook with twelve pending but Peter needs a ride home. The two are soon off on their adventure with Ethan’s little dog in the backseat.
The road trip takes several detours as the two travel together. Ethan stops at a drug house to pick up his “medication.” Later on, Peter gets into a fight with a man in a wheelchair as he awaits a money transfer from his wife. The trip eventually leads them to a friend of Peter’s (who may or may not be the father of the child that Ethan is expecting in California) and the Mexican border.
Unfortunately, many of these comic adventures fall flat. There are a few laughs in the movie but most of them were featured in the film’s trailers so the audience has seen them before. A large majority of the jokes and plot twists feel tired. Galifianakis even seems to be playing the same character he played in “The Hangover.” There’s nothing really smart or witty about this story that makes it stand out.
Additionally, both of the main characters are extremely unlikable. Although I like Robert Downey Jr., Peter is a mean-spirited jerk who is ready to lose his temper on a moment’s notice. On the other hand, Ethan is both annoying and offensive. (See his “personal” activities before going to bed, with Peter sleeping inches away, as an example of how disgusting he can be.)
What “Due Date” ultimately lacks is charm and personality. All of the four main characters in “The Hangover” had both and it wasn’t forced upon them. Neither of the two main characters in “Due Date” have either. This is a formulaic movie with little originality and unlikable characters. The film may be called “Due Date” but it’s full of clichéd jokes and tired twists that have already passed their expiration date.