Director Todd Phillips came a long way from his roots directing the very uneven and at-times-terrible “Hangover” movies when he directed 2019’s academy darling “Joker”. 2010’s “Due Date,” a crass comedy starring Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr., released in between “The Hangover” and “The Hangover Part II” stands as a testament to how far he has come.
“Due Date” is a disposable buddy comedy starring Downey Jr. as bland architect Peter Highman trying to make it to his wife’s C-section before her due date, who finds himself on a No-Fly List when he bumps into struggling actor Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), and a series of hijinks ensue. Highman finds himself without his wallet or any form of photo ID, but Tremblay offers to drive him to his home in L.A., thus setting up the film’s buddy road trip premise.
Perhaps the film’s biggest sin is not using Downey Jr. to his fullest potential, but it’s important to note that in 2010, while he was a big name, with the first two “Iron Man” films, “Sherlock Holmes” and “Tropic Thunder” under his belt, he wasn’t the biggest actor on the planet yet, with the first “Avengers” film still two years away. Downey Jr. by far delivers the best performance in “Due Date,” and while the film is what it is — disposable, crass entertainment — it’s a shame to see him wasted in this.
Galifianakis is fine in this, but the novelty of his character — a misunderstood weird guy who gets into all sorts of antics with a heart of gold — gets old pretty fast. I can see why he was so popular when this film came out as “LOL Random” humour was still very popular at this time, and indeed some of the ridiculous scenarios he gets Downey Jr.’s straight man into do warrant a chuckle, his character comes off more as irritating than funny in 2020.
I did notice some instances of good cinematography in this film, and indeed I think Phillips was always capable of the creative cinematography we saw in “Joker”, it adds little to this film. “Due Date” is about as smart as your average Adam Sandler film.
When you remove the random and shock humour from this film, there is very little to appreciate from a comedic perspective. If you’ve seen this film already, a second watch will probably offer you little to nothing, as the film is overly reliant on taking the plot in weird directions. Once you know where the film is heading, there’s not much left for you to enjoy.
“Due Date” is a comedy well past its “Best By” date in 2020. While it has a few laughs upon a first watch, you might be better swapping it out for an average Happy Madison production. Or the original “Hangover” film.
“Due Date” gets a 5/10