The Hangover was a fairly accomplished comedy, but did it even come close to justifying its almost-$500m worldwide box office receipts? No chance. When a formula equals big bucks, however, studios will roll out copycats time and again, and before the sequel hits in 2011, director Todd Phillips goes down a similar path again on Due Date. Ditching Vegas for the open road, and pitching Robert Downey Jr. against Hangover standout, Zach Galifianakis, his speedily shot 2010 release follows the same tone beat for beat, with Phillips surely hoping to have another Hangover-sized success on his hands.
After unintentionally conspiring to get each other thrown off their internal flight to LA, the highly strung Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) and lackadaisical aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) have no other option than to ride back together in a hire car, and live off the bare minimum of cash floating around in Tremblay’s wallet. While Tremblay is relatively care free, Highman’s wife is due to give birth at any minute, and though it’s of the utmost importance he gets home in just a handful of days, somewhat unsurprisingly everything doesn’t exactly run to Peter’s schedule.
It’s a premise that could have worked well, if hardly original, but given successful road trip comedies in the past, and their undoubted presence in the future, this is certainly a disappointing example.
Due Date follows all of the classic story twists you’d associate with the sub-genre; they have to get home in a matter of days but forever miss their deadlines, they get arrested, they get drunk, they get high, and they destroy their car, but never are these shocking moments ever actually surprising.
While Downey Jr. is good, Galifianakis is more than wasted in his role, not so much his fault, just badly written, especially as he was so obviously always in mind give the attempted quirks in his character. The script isn’t bad at heart, it’s polished enough, sure, there’s just not much to it, and certainly no spark or real intelligence to set it apart.
The comedy comes thick and fast, in a similar way to The Hangover. A few of the jokes hit, but it’s more Galifianakis’ funny asides rather than the set-pieces or character elements written into the story. Sadly again, nothing so fantastic you’ll ever risk passing a tear as the attempted hilarity ensues.
The production values on Due Date suitably high, a standard given that this is a major studio movie, and that saves the film from being thoroughly boring, it’s just so uninventive and largely drab that there’s ve ry little to recommend it for, and for that reason, if you want a fix of Todd Phillip’s adults-acting-out comedy, rent out Old School, or even Road Trip, instead.