Date delivers familiar premise

Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: A high-strung, caustic fellow has to get home in time for a critical event in his life but is forced to pair up with a good-natured but clueless weirdo in order to do so.
This is pretty much the plot of Due Date, the latest film from director Todd Phillips of The Hangover and Old School, where an unlikely pair of travelers ends up trekking across the country while enduring a series of mishaps and disasters.
The movie starts out with a morning monologue by Peter Highman, played by the perpetually scruffy and sarcastic Robert Downey Jr., who is an architect traveling away from Atlanta.
He is set to return to his home in Los Angeles so he can witness the birth of his first child. Though his life is on the cusp of something new, things take a decidedly bizarre and difficult turn for him once he hits the airport and runs into fellow traveler Ethan Tremblay.
Wannabe thespian Ethan is played by the especially fuzzy (figuratively and literally) and rotund Zach Galifianakis. A senseless turn of events puts both men on the no-fly list and leaves Peter without any money or ID. This then sets into motion a greater chain of events when he reluctantly decides to go cross-country with Ethan and his bat-eared French bulldog Sunny.
For those of you who missed out on the opening humor, the basic plot has quite a resemblance to director John Hughes’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles from 1987.
The only difference is that it has been updated to the modern day and feels very much like The Hangover going on tour. Much of the story and comedy focuses on the tension that inevitably arises between the two very different men, leading to moments that are anywhere from incredibly hilarious to particularly awkward. The disasters that occur are often a result of their separate flaws.
While there are a good number of laughs to be had throughout the movie, it feels like they are sometimes spaced far apart from one another or fail to elicit much amusement.
A certain level of zaniness is expected from this movie given the director, but some of the scenarios that occur feel forced and unnatural like some especially unreasonable airport security measures that hopefully do not exist in real life.
To their credit, Downey Jr. and Galifianakis play into their roles and are funny to watch together, with the former sometimes exploding out of his usual cool and sarcastic self into expletive-ridden rants and threats, and Galifiankis fitting the oblivious loser quite well.
There are also cameos from Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride and the rapper RZA, though they are small parts. If they had been bigger parts in the movie, like Mike Tyson in The Hangover, the movie might have been able to get even more laughs.
Even though Due Date has a fitting soundtrack and numerous beautiful, sweeping shots of the American landscape that all fit in with the road trip plot device, it is a pity that more time is not spent exploring these places or getting the character relationships better developed.
It is certainly worth noting that for Atlanta natives that watch this film, familiar sights such as the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the skyline of Atlanta and a non-descript Waffle House make an appearance.
The laughs are plenty, though uneven, and the main characters manage to keep the audience’s attention the whole time. However, the lack of character development and the familiar premise of the film’s plot detract from the experience.
Due Date would most certainly be worth watching with some friends for a source of amusement, but do not expect anything thrilling or especially noteworthy.


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