This Generation's Planes, Trains & Automobiles Arrives in Due Date
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- Updated Feb 24, 2011
DVD Release Date: February 22, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: November 5, 2010
Rating: R (for language, drug use and sexual content)
Run Time: 100 min.
Director: Todd Phillips
Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx
Much like its R-rated Planes, Trains & Automobiles predecessor that starred Steve Martin and the late John Candy back in 1987, Due Date is also the madcap tale of two guys who wouldn't even be friends, let alone take a cross-country road trip together, if extenuating circumstances weren't involved.
On what should've been just another routine flight from Atlanta to LAX, a high-strung, easily annoyed architect and first-time father-to-be (hence the need to get home—pronto) named Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) unexpectedly runs into his worst nightmare, a schlubby, prancing aspiring actor with a really bad stage name who just won't leave him alone, Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis).
As you probably suspected, Ethan's poor taste in professional monikers is really the least of his problems. Not only does Ethan insist on treating his froofy French bulldog like a pampered child and maintain that he's 23 years old even though he's probably in his mid to late 30s, but his basic people skills (or lack thereof) are where he's probably the most severely challenged.
In a nutshell: He's got n-o-t-h-i-n-g in that department, even with the best of intentions.
In fact, in probably no more than five minutes flat, Ethan's immature antics get him and Peter flagged for the FAA's no-fly list, and they are now forced to find alternate transportation to the City of Angels.
Looking forward to finally saying adios to Ethan for good, Peter then discovers his wallet is missing while trying to rent a car. So with no driver's license, cash or credit cards and a C-section delivery he doesn't want to miss in 72-ish hours, he swallows his pride and agrees to ride with Ethan. After all, how bad can it be, right?
Cue ensuing road-trip hi-jinks.
Considering that Atlanta is a long, long way from Los Angeles, that's a lot of mile markers to cover in the film's 100-minute running time, and unfortunately, some of Due Date's jokes end up scraping the bottom of the barrel for cheap laughs. Truth be told, if it wasn't for the chemistry and comedic prowess of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis in their respective odd-couple roles, Due Date's not particularly original premise would've probably failed spectacularly.
But Downey Jr. and Galifianakis do make a pretty funny pair who can actually learn a thing or two from each other. While Due Date's big laughs certainly aren't as consistent as comedy-lovers would expect, there are some genuinely gut-busting moments that will make it something of a guilty pleasure for some viewers.
And unlike last year's box office smash The Hangover that put director Todd Phillips back on the map in a big way after 2003's Old School, Due Date doesn't just aim to shock and challenge the boundaries of good taste. In all the road-trip craziness which involves everything from an unexpected run-in with Mexican border officials to a detour for the medical marijuana Ethan needs for his supposed "glaucoma," there's a surprisingly heartwarming underbelly that revolves around the importance of family—yet another quality this film shares with Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
Even as polar opposite as Peter and Ethan are, they inevitably find common ground in acknowledging the importance of having loving fathers—whether it's the one Ethan is mourning and now carrying around in a coffee can or the one Peter is aspiring to be (his own dad walked out on his family) when his wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) gives birth.
In all of Ethan's lunacy, Peter discovers that hanging with him is actually pretty good practice for impending fatherhood. Not only does Ethan help expose Peter's problem with anger, but Peter learns that value of listening and being patient, something that didn't always fit into his busy lifestyle.
Those positive elements aside, however, Due Date still isn't the movie you'd probably feel comfortable taking your entire family to see. But in terms of culture-shaping entertainment, it was somewhat refreshing to see that there was a little more to Due Date than simply raunchy, over-the-top antics executed in the name of comedy. Now one can't help hoping that trend will continue in a more spectacular fashion in future outings…
Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, plus medical marijuana (used to treat Ethan's "glaucoma") is practically another character in the movie. Its effects on Ethan, Peter and even Ethan's white French bulldog are played for laughs, and Ethan isn't shy about smoking it whenever he'd like.
Language/Profanity: Several uses of the "f" word, plus the misuse of God's name.
Sex/Nudity: Ethan says he has to masturbate in order to fall asleep (the camera then cuts to Ethan's dog, who's shown doing the same thing). There's also the occasional discussion of sex and childbirth.
Violence: Peter definitely has some latent anger issues and is beat up by a money-transfer clerk he insults. He also gets in two car accidents (he breaks his arm), thanks to Ethan's careless driving. While waiting for Ethan to buy his medical marijuana, a woman asks Peter if he'll watch her kids. When one of them misbehaves, he gives the kid a pretty decent gut punch. Peter also makes several not-so-veiled threats to Ethan, saying if he misses the birth of his child, he'll "choke him out with his own scarf. Wrap the thing ‘round your head and choke you out." In reply, Ethan says it "sounds a bit drastic."
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.