Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

November 5, 2010

Odd couple

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 5:38 pm

November 05, 2010

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monoghan, Jamie Foxx

Director: Todd Phillips

Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr and The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis is structured as your standard comic road-movie. But it’s the livewire chemistry between the men and the steady stream of dirty jokes that makes it so watchable, despite how familiar the movie feels.

Straight-laced architect Peter (played by Robert Downey Jr) has an annoying encounter with chubby nut-case Ethan (played by Zach Galifianakis) while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Peter’s desperately trying to get home in time for the birth of his first child. Ethan’s an aspiring actor headed to Hollywood, traveling with his pug under one arm, a coffee can containing his dead father’s ashes under the other. A baggage mix-up and a painful run-in with an air marshal results in the two of them being thrown off their flight. Now without passport or wallet, Peter has no choice but to carpool to California with the unpredictable man-child Ethan.

Much in the same vein as John Hughes’ classic road-trip movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, this film relies on the thankfully terrific chemistry between its leads to keep you enthralled as their journey lurches from one outrageous mishap to another. These include a detour to acquire Ethan’s ‘medical marijuana’ from the home of a drug-dealer, a violent encounter with a handicapped bank clerk, a road-accident caused due to Ethan falling asleep at the wheel, and a daring escape from the Mexican border patrol.

Directed by The Hangover’s Todd Phillips, Due Date isn’t nearly as ballsy as that film, but there are enough uncomfortable situations between the characters that throw up plenty full-throated laughs. One of them involves the unappetizing misuse of Ethan’s father’s ashes, and another the self-pleasuring secret to a good night’s sleep. But to be fair, there’s more to the film than just this crude humor. In fact, it’s peppered with sentimental touches in the scenes where these mismatched co-passengers find themselves slowly becoming friends.

Even when the script fails them – which it often does, like in that ridiculous Mexican hold-up sequence – it’s the actors who keep the mood buoyant. As the permanently scowling Peter who can’t believe how things are going for him, Robert Downey Jr is spot-on funny, his mean streak serving as the perfect foil to Ethan’s endearing stupidity. In another performance sure to win him many fans, Zach Galifianakis stands out with a hilarious turn as the oddball schlub alternating between silliness and genuine sweetness.

I’m going with three out of five for Due Date; it’s a gross-out comedy invested with a surprising amount of warmth. Look out for that scene in which Sonny the dog delivers the film’s most outrageous, unexpected joke. This is the film not to miss this weekend!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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