Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mini-Review: "Due Date"

Matty and I finally managed to get together to see a movie tonight. We had a list of about 6 movies we both wanted to see and finally narrowed it down to Due Date, mostly because we were in the mood to laugh.

Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) stars as uptight architect Peter Highman, who is on his way home to L.A. from Atalanta to attend the birth of his first child. A chance encounter at the airport with wannabe actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) leads to both of them ending up on the No-Fly list and forcing them to travel across the country together, much like Steve Martin and John Candy in John Hughes' superior 1987 film Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Ethan is obsessed with "Two and a Half Men," carries his father's ashes in a coffee can and is addicted to pot. He thinks the Grand Canyon was man made, the Pilgrims built Hoover Dam and that Shakespeare was a pirate who was actually named 'Shakes Beard.' He's the type of eccentric moron that would have been played by John Candy 30 years ago or Chris Farley 20 years ago. Peter is obsessed with logical thinking and maintaining propriety. He's the kind of priggish, rich asshole that would have been played by Chevy Chase 30 years ago or Steve Martin 20 years ago (when they were both still funny).

Due Date is a raunchier version of the kind of mismatched buddy picture we've seen a hundred times before, but filled with masturbation and pot jokes. Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) is on hand as a "pharmacist" and Jamie Fox (Ray) is Peter's pro football buddy. Sadly none of them can save this cliche-ridden picture from its own mediocrity. Happily, Galifianakis' performance is just sweet and vulnerable enough to make it tolerable. Downey is fine, though his character is so despicably nasty, one wonders why a wide-eyed optimist like Ethan would want to spend time with him. Director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, though the script (by Phillips and three other writers) barely stops long enough to explain why the two choose to stay together all the way to Los Angeles. Amusing at best, Due Date is the kind of movie where you park your brain at the ticket booth and just go along for the ridiculous ride and appreciate the most ridiculous moments for what they are. ** (Two Out of  Four Stars).

I must, however, once again object to parents who bring their children to age-inappropriate films. Seated in front of us were a mother and four kids, none of whom were more than 12. Due Date is rated "R" for sexual situations, language and drug use. What on Earth possessed this woman to think it was okay to bring these kids to this movie? I know there were moments when she had to feel uncomfortable (I wouldn't have wanted to be part of the conversation on that ride home). And needless to say, the kids talked loudly, got up often and laughed only at the most obvious of jokes. Even I was uncomfortable knowing they were seeing this movie.

Parents, leave your children at home when seeing a movie obviously aimed at adults.

More, anon.

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