Due Date (Blu-ray)
Few situations are more ripe for comedy than pitting two unwilling travel partners on a long road trip. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what you can do and the only limit to a road trip comedy is the filmmakers’ imagination. So even though DUE DATE was a blatant copy of PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, I was excited to see what the never-miss Todd Phillips was going to do with his take on the reliable comedy schtick. Unfortunately, it seemed that he and screenwriters Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland and Adam Sztykiel (too many screenwriters; another sign the film isn’t going to be great) spent most of the film holding back punches and let a lot of good comedy opportunities slip right by them.
Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) and Ethan (Zach Galifianakis) are traveling from Atlanta to Los Angeles after a misunderstanding gets both of them kicked off a flight and onto a no fly list. Pete is a hot tempered architect trying to make it home for the birth of his first child and Ethan is a simpleton on his way to Hollywood to become an actor. The set-up is done well as Phillips avoids dwelling on any one particular incident and the film quickly reaches its comedic height when they stop in Mobile, AL to visit a drug dealer. After Peter reacted to an obnoxious little boy, I actually got really excited for the rest of the film, thinking they were going to push some boundaries and give us something new to the road trip genre.
But I was severely disappointed because the film was a giant letdown from that point forward. I hate to continue to heap praise on Robert Downey Jr., but without his presence in the film, this would have been unwatchable. Galifianakis was basically just rehashing his character from THE HANGOVER and his simpleton act wore thin pretty quickly. The filmmakers also struggled finding the right balance of comedy and sentiment and were never consistent with Ethan. One minute he’s getting yelled at by Peter and the next he’s crying over the death of his father. I appreciate the effort of trying to add more depth to a comedy, but DUE DATE needed a more even tone and many, many more laughs.
Once they ended up in Mexico, the film took a turn for the frustratingly silly. Their detour was both unexpected and out of place in the film and felt like it belonged in a different movie. We were grounded in reality all the way to that point and then it just got out of hand. The film is also a proverbial graveyard for missed comedic opportunities. Each time I thought they were going to give us a big laugh, they chickened out. The scene with Pete fighting a crippled veteran (a nice cameo from Danny McBride) and the scene with Peter’s friend, Darryl (Jamie Foxx) were ripe for a few belly laughs and all they could muster was a slight chuckle.
Overall, DUE DATE is one of those films that might generate a few laughs if you were flipping through the channels and caught it on cable, but not if you seek it out and have high expectations. Downey Jr., delivers another great performance, but the weak script and failed opportunities make this a disappointing film.
Video(1080p, 2.40:1)- This is one of the better transfers from Warner Brothers, featuring beautiful video.
Audio (English: DTS-HD Master 5.1)- This is a dialogue heavy film, but it sounds crystal clear.
Deleted Scenes (3:58)- These are pretty weak and it’s very good that they ended up being cut, that said it is only four minutes long.
Gag Reel (7:01)- Nothing special here, just your normal outtakes and “hahaha, I flubbed my line!”
Too Many Questions (1:01)- Couldn’t get enough of Galifianakis’ questions in the film? Here’s some more for you.
Action Mash-Up (1:00)- This is a montage of all the action sequences, so weak guys.
The Complete Two and a Half Men Scene (3:01)- This is the full scene of Ethan’s stint on the television show. Meh.