My 100th post. It’s when a day starts like this, it’s all up-hill from here
The road-trip movie. A perennial favourite with Hollywood. With this one, a highly-strung and hostile office worker and a friendly, weird, bear of a man are both forced travel together across America. It sounds like John Hughes’ 1987 classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but it is Due Date, a rather cruder and more extreme version of the road-trip from hell.
Atlanta, Peter Highman, (Robert Downey Jr.) is an uptight architect on his way to the airport to fly back to LA in order to be with his wife Sara (Michelle Monaghan) who is giving birth to their first child. Unfortunately, he encounters the human disaster that is aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) and his dog Sunny. Peter’s day go from bad to worse as they are thrown off the airplane and that incident sparks off the genuine road-trip from hell.
Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover), this is a very bitter and disgusting film indeed. This is similar to Planes, Trains and Automobiles only a lot more vicious (and disgusting in one place).
It is a movie about two very different boys. It is a movie that takes their differences to the extreme. It is a movie that revels in the horrid temper of Downey Jr. and the sheer anti-social weirdness of Galifianakis who is displayed indulging an emotional tin-ear from hell and filthy habits that would play hell with fellow travellers.
How far you find this funny might depend upon the level of sympathy you have for the characters. I have to admit, I admired Downey Jrs. cool persona and vicious put-downs. But then he is the new cool. Despite the film’ s efforts at taking the characters on an emotional journey, this film lacks the heart of Planes, Trains et al.
The emotions are secondary to a constant barrage of moments of awkwardness, hilarity and character clash that are all dragged out to their most excruciating conclusions. Downey Jr. and Galifianakis are determined to drag each other down.
I have to admit, I did laugh at a lot (I wasn’t the only person in the theatre to find Downey Jr. punching a kid inappropriately hilarious) but not as much or as deeply as I could have.
There are a number of cameos such as RZA and Danny McBride. Standouts are Juliette Lewis as drug-dealer Heidi and Jamie Foxx as a football player with ‘history’ with Sara but this is a film about the boys and the encounters they have some of which seem contrived – would they really go to Mexico? Really?
But that is neither here nor there because the whole aim of this comedy is to place these unlikely travelling companions in unlikely situations. I want to say that despite not being terribly satisfied in the laughter department, it was still amusing and the characters did manage to grow on me. So something worked.