Combining slapstick silliness with snatches of smart humour, Todd Phillips’s follow-up to last year’s sleeper The Hangover taps into that most familiar of present-day torments — travelling. The outcome, though hardly original, is an agreeable road-trip comedy.
A mismatched duo is forced by circumstances to share a long ride and if you’re thinking of the 1987 Steve Martin-John Candy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, you would not be too wrong.
In an inspired bit of casting, Robert Downey, Jr. portrays an uptight architect faced with the Sisyphean task of returning home to Los Angeles in time for the birth of his first child.
But the fates are allayed against him. An encounter with an aspiring actor (Galifianakis, reliably unnerving) lands both of them on a ‘no-fly’ list at the Atlanta airport.
Their subsequent cross-country trip creates such outlandish situations that we marvel at the scriptwriters’ invention.
During the course of the journey, the desperate father-to-be has run-ins with a drug dealer (Juliette Lewis), her obnoxious young son, a disgruntled war veteran, not to mention his best buddy (Jamie Foxx).
The ample star wattage attests to the director’s growing reputation as an ace comedic filmmaker.
At the same time, scenes like the wannabe actor’s impromptu role-playing exercises or the attempts to scatter the ashes of his recently departed dad over the Grand Canyon are extremely moving. It’s only during the latter part of the film that the proceedings become slapdash, particularly a clichéd car chase involving the Mexican border police. Even so, at a snappy 95 minutes, Due Date doesn’t overstay its welcome. Enjoy.