“Due Date” Movie Review

     Todd Phillips follows up his highly successful film “The Hangover” with the comedy “Due Date” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis.  Due Date is a standard road trip comedy that pits a successful, well off type guy against someone who is the exact opposite.  Where Downey’s character Peter is well mannered and considerate, Galifianakis’ character Ethan is rude and disgusting.  As you can easily figure out, these differences on a long trip across the country will create a number of comedic situations, but will they be effective enough to be a worthy follow up to Phillips’ record setting film from last summer?

     Peter and Ethan meet by chance at an airport and after an incident puts them both on the “no fly list”, they are forced to drive across country together.  Ethan is on his way to Hollywood to pursue his dream to be an actor.  The film’s title explains Peter’s mission.  His wife is having their first child in a couple days and he needs to make it home in time or else miss his child’s birth.  Whether or not you like Due Date will be determined by how much you expect to laugh from a comedy.  There are several truly funny bits throughout the film, but there is also several dramatic scenes mixed in.  It’s as if Phillips is going out of his way to get you to root for Ethan and to do this he tries to tug on your heart a bit.  There is nothing wrong with this, but it makes for long stretches in the film where you probably won’t laugh.  So, basically the comedy is sporadic.

     As you would expect from the director of “Road Trip”, “Old School”, and the aforementioned “The Hangover”, there is plenty of gross out scenes involving Galifianakis.  As the film’s tag line says, “Leave your comfort zone”, the gags involving Ethan couldn’t ring more true.  Some may be a little over the top, but if you like your humor in the gutter, you’ll be right at home.  As they move from town to town, there are several funny cameos by actors you will know.  Juliette Lewis appears as a very organized weed dealer, Danny McBride is hilarious as a battle scarred war veteran working at a Western Union, and Jamie Foxx saves the day appearing as one of Peter’s friends late in the film.  

     Overall, Due Date does deliver some laughs, but it is likely you may leave having wanted more.  Sometimes this happens when a director ascends to the heights of a film so universally accepted like The Hangover and then tries to follow it up the next year, but just can’t meet expectations. Think for a second about the phenomenon known as “The Sixth Sense” from director M. Night Shyamalan.  That film performed in its genre much like The Hangover did in its genre and to this day, Shyamalan has not treated us to anything we would say is better than The Sixth Sense.  Phillips has, perhaps, just made his “Unbreakable” if you follow my analogy, because his Due Date is above average but not where we expect it to be.  It should be mentioned that Phillips’ next project is “The Hangover 2” due out Summer, 2011.  I wonder if my review of that film will have me engaging in the famous sequel debate of which sequels are better and which ones fall short?  Stay tuned. GRADE: C+