Monday, November 8, 2010

Due Date

When I saw the first trailer for Due Date, I was interested, because it seemed to have the potential to be a modern day Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I was also a bit wary, because the trailer itself wasn't actually very funny. So while it didn't turn out to really measure up to some of the great road comedies of the past, I was glad to have enjoyed it enough to make seeing seem worthwhile. It's not the most creative movie ever written, but a lot of times mediocre material can be salvaged by a good cast, and Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifiankis are two of the best funny actors working today. The surrounding supporting players aren't as unique and compelling as you'd hope, but they work well enough to give material for the two leads to bounce off of.

Todd Phillips has never really been very impressive at his job, and the main problem with the movie is the script that he and the bevy of other writers involved came up with. There's just not a ton there to work with. Some of the dialogue is pretty good, especially pretty much everything Downey says when he gets pissed, which is often. But less effort is made to justify the contrivances of this movie, such as why the two mismatched main characters are stuck together and why they are eventually able to bond. Of course it's something that has to happen, it just doesn't feel natural when the transition occurs after not a whole ton of prodding. And the biggest gap in the story involves the resolution of several highly dangerous crimes that take place, in a way that just completely ignores how the world works. I get that it's a comedy and that I should just enjoy it, but usually movies at least try to hand wave this stuff somehow rather than completely ignoring it.

And while I liked the performances, the characters were a bit thin, especially Galifianakis'. His performance of an overweight, effeminate, idiotic, delusional man-child is enjoyable, but unlike his role in Phillips' The Hangover, pretty much all of the humor comes from pointing out these characteristics repeatedly rather than showing how these characteristics would be funny. As I mentioned before, the supporting cast is decent. Danny McBride makes another stellar cameo as a war veteran working at the Western Union, and Juliette Lewis makes for a pretty good pot dealer. It's kind of funny seeing Michelle Monaghan as Downey's wife after their roles together in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, though despite Jamie Foxx' likability, I really could have done without the subplot involving those two, and he was also heavily involved with the ashes-in-coffee-can bit that was way too The Big Lebowski for me. So that probably gives you a pretty good feel for how the movie goes - lots of issues with the writing, but still enjoyable because of the people in it. It makes for a pretty enjoyable movie that's far from a great one, and one I'm not desperate for the chance to see again. Better than it could have been, but less than its potential.

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