Leave Your Comfort Zone
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr) has received word that his baby is due to be born, he’s about to be a father for the first time, the only problem is he is in Atlanta... and his baby is being born in Los Angeles.
Travelling home is his only option, but his wallet and luggage are stolen leaving him stranded and desperate and with nowhere to go! That is until kind stranger Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) offers Highman a ride home, this decent act seems like a miracle for Highman, but little does he know what he’s in for.
Tremblay is not what most people would describe as an average guy; he’s an aspiring actor and is quite frankly a little bit insane. Together they’re on a road trip from hell, action and adventure ensue along with a splashing of insanely funny comedy.
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Peter (highly-strung with unresolved anger-management issues) is an architect who has been on business in Atlanta. He is on his way back to his home in Los Angeles to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. However he is forced to change his plans after he meets Ethan Tremblay (a slightly effeminate aspiring actor with disgusting personal habits) and accidentally becomes his drugs mule. They still manage to board the plane but Ethan apparently has a propensity to use inappropriate words such as 'bomb' and 'terrorist' in volatile places such as the First Class section of an aeroplane. Peter gets a rubber bullet in the chest thanks to a trigger-happy in-flight security agent and they're both unceremoniously de-boarded. Peter is then forced to hitch a cross-country ride with Ethan in a rental car to Hollywood where Ethan hopes to find himself a role in the TV show Two and a Half Men. Due Date is very much a contemporary version of the 1987 film Planes, Trains & Automobiles starring John Candy and Steve Martin. In fact it's fair to say that Due Date is rather derivative of the John Hughes movie. Candy, Martin and Hughes were the 80s comedy dream-team and whilst many would consider Phillips, Downey Jr. and Galifianakis to be the present-day equivalent Due Date doesn't quite match the greatness of its forerunner. Due Date, with its team of four writers, could perhaps have offered more in terms of characterisation and deeper exploration of the human psyche. Downey Jr. (thoroughly engaging as Sherlock Holmes and stylish and sophisticated as Iron Man) has been in such good form of late and is always eminently watchable. He has a genuine warmth and charm that very few other actors can lay claim to having. Galifianakis on the other hand is a difficult actor to sum up. He worked as a stand-up comic before being introduced to movies by Phillips and despite often looking less-than-physically-appealing his characters such as Ethan Tremblay are imbued with a certain amount of flair and confidence. Tremblay on the whole is well dressed, indeed sometimes flamboyantly so, and his demeanour can be quite heart-warming as well as funny. I'm really developing a liking for him as an actor and of his comic abilities. Downey Jr. and Galifianakis produce brave and unabashed performances bringing life and warmth to characters that often act in morally reprehensible ways and should by rights be insufferable. Due Date is effectively a two-handed film which unfortunately leaves the secondary characters out in the cold. They are sketchily drawn at best. Foxx who has co-starred in several big Hollywood movies including Law Abiding Citizen, Collateral and Ray while Monaghan is an up-and-coming actress who has starred in the likes of Eagle Eye with her next film Source Code looking as though it will be one of the big hits of 2011. Yet here they are both left clawing for some real identity. Their roles are underwritten and feel like cameos rather than roles that should have rounded out the film as a whole. Subsequently the film has to rely heavily on the charm and likeability of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis who are, at times, playing against type which makes them more difficult to like and less simple to empathise with. Phillips however manages to find both humour and humanity in his characters, giving the actors enough room and opportunity to express themselves within their roles. To some they may appear to be two mean-spirited losers, fighting and insulting each other, but I'll freely admit to enjoying darker, more acerbic humour. Phillips does well with two diametrically opposed characters but with just a little more effort this could have been almost a study of social cruelties and the complexities of human nature. Sadly however it falls just short. Due Date is a darkly humorous, mean-spirited comedy, full of inappropriate behaviour and occasional moments of edgy, inspired humour such as an extremely irritating young boy receiving a gut-punch from Peter and an outrageous scene of a masturbating French poodle. The former flies while the latter bombs but it's the willingness to test the boundaries of humour and taste that impresses. If you like your films with a rich vein of jet-black comedy running through them then Due Date is one to watch. The Blu-ray offers significantly higher quality visuals than the DVD (also included in the Triple Play package). Skin tones are natural and the colours are rich and bright. The image is sharp throughout without any noticeable grain or defects.
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