Director Todd Philips’ time-killing project in-between The Hangover and The Hangover, Part II (due May 26, 2011) is a odd-couple road-trip movie in the vein of John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Due Date stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifinakis, and is about as crude and frat-boyish as you’d expect from the guy who gave the world such early-2000s gems as Road Trip and Old School.
Galifinakis plays a would-be actor named Ethan Tremblay (né Ethan Chase; Tremblay is a stage name). He’s been in Atlanta for his father’s funeral and is en route to Hollywood to make it big in the film biz. (His inspiration for heading to sunny California? The execrable, inexplicably-adored TV series Two and a Half Men, for which he runs a fansite called It’sRainingTwoandaHalfMen.com.)
Kerbside at the airport, he accidentally swaps his medicinal-marijuana-containing luggage with Peter Highman (Downey, Jr.), a businessman of some kind whose surname is a sophomoric, insipid joke in and of itself on at least one occasion. He gets put on a no-fly list and somehow also loses his wallet; without ID he can’t rent a car to get back to L.A. for the birth of his first child, so Ethan offers him a lift, and the duo—with Ethan’s pug dog and his father’s ashes in a coffee can in tow—heads not-so-comfortably out along the highway in Ethan’s hired Prius.
Shambolic hijinks, several car crashes, a stop-off to pick up more of Ethan’s glaucoma medicine (i.e. pot), and a heap of forced sentimentality ensue, to varying degrees of comedy-success. There’s a reasonably funny cameo by Danny McBride, and a sequence where Ethan, high as a kite, takes a detour through Mexico, but many of the jokes work only because of how they’re delivered: by Galifinakis, in deadpan—much like his “He’s a ri-tard” line in The Hangover.
The sentimentality resides most immediately in the soundtrack: Philips’ irritating employment of Neil Young’s “Old Man” is as obtuse as the character of Ethan himself, and the surrounding pathos—the tangibly unreal bromance between Peter and Ethan—is no less galling. Not only is Due Date a film you’ve seen before (and therefore one not worth watching) but it’s one you can feel lurching creakily from plot point to plot point for the full hour-and-a-half.
Due Date opens November 25th.