I guess I’ve written it before, but Robert Downey Jr. has become something like my favorite actor–of the ones active today. Yeah, I know, it’s a little silly that an adult man like me picks specific favorites from different areas, but what the hell, people often ask me about my favorite movies, actors, bands, instant noodles. I need to come up with answers. Downey is a cool dude, a brilliant actor who in principle can play every type of character imaginable in every genre there is. He’s handsome and a funny guy.
Todd Phillips’ last movie was the amazing laugh orgy “The Hangover.” From that movie, Phillips brings Zach Galifianakis–talk about a hopeless name for an actor, I never remember it–who’s been paired with Robert Downey för “Due Date.”
Downey is Peter Highman, a strict, business-minded man whose wife is supposed to deliver their first child in a couple of days. Peter is at an airport, about to catch a flight to Los Angeles, when he literally crashes into the bizarre Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), a man who claims he’s an actor on his way to Hollywood.
By accident, they happen to switch bags, which leads to them getting stopped in the security check, since Peter unwittingly tries to bring Ethan’s pot smoking equipment aboard the plane. Peter sorts it all out with the staff, but thanks to the incident he isn’t allowed to fly. He needs to get home in another way. Something easier said than done, since his luggage and wallet are on a nice trip to L.A. via airplane.
Ethan has, however, managed to rent a car, and, very reluctantly, Peter accepts a ride. They have to drive via the Grand Canyon, since Ethan wants to spread his dead father’s dust there; he keeps his dad’s remains in a coffee can.
Their journey does, of course, turn into the opposite of smooth and pleasant; Ethan is a human being who is very hard to keep company with in a normal manner–and they manage to hurt themselves, to get arrested and lots more, and I feel I really can’t tell anything about this road trip without spoiling the gags.
“Due Date” is a very enjoyable comedy, a road movie that entertains the whole way, and there are a few laugh out loud moments in it. But it’s not as funny as “The Hangover.” “Due Date” is a little more restrained, it’s just about two guys this time, and even if Peter is a sarcastic guy who supplies much of the humor, he’s primarily the straight man next to the unlikely Ethan.
Then it’s also unavoidable to compare this movie with the 1980s comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” starring Steve Martin and John Candy. “Due Date” is, more or less, exactly the same movie; this feels like an unofficial remake.
Juliette Lewis pops up as a spaced out marijuana dealer, and Jamie Foxx is Peter’s buddy who tries to help out.
Let’s face the facts: all movies in which Robert Downey Jr. punches a little kid in the stomach are good by definition.I had, however, hoped that I would laugh till I cried, and that never happened.
Images copyright © Sandrew Metronome