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'Due Date' delivers range of emotions

Nov. 11, 2010

Warner Bros. Pictures
Zach GalifIianakis stars as Ethan Tremblay and Robert Downey Jr. stars as Peter Highman in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' comedy "Due Date."

By Ashley Morris

"Due Date" isn't "The Hangover," but what it lacks in fresh humor it makes up for in endless wisecracks, ramped-up action scenes and a more meaningful storyline.

The journey begins when Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.), a type A, high-strung architect, is kicked off a flight and forced to take a cross-country trip with a stranger to see the birth of his baby girl.

Little does he know, this obese, less than successful, wannabe actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) will take him from a composed, clean-cut businessman to a gunshot victim with a broken arm and bruised ego.

Once again, director Todd Phillips does a rock star job of using polar opposite characters to produce a slightly uncomfortable ambiance that allows for enough witty banter and dramatic incidents to keep the film lighthearted and the audience wanting more.

With Peter so full of himself he's like a human hot air balloon and Ethan running around like a chicken with his head cut off, you can't help but feel sorry for these two having to spend days together in a car (well, multiple types of vehicles) with no escape route.

And just like in "The Hangover," everything that could go wrong did.

But "Due Date" is different in that these characters' humorous misfortunes tug at your heart. You see Ethan's goofy personality mature through mourning his father and Peter become humbled when he realizes his good friend, Darryl (Jamie Foxx), and wife, Sarah (Michelle Monoghan), may be having an affair.

Despite Downey's charm making him a slight misfit of a neurotic character the audience is supposed to hate, his subtle wit contrasted with Galifianakis' in-your-face hilarity makes their chemistry spectacular and timing in delivering punch lines impeccable. Downey has the perfect cocky, sarcastic tone to offset Galifianakis' outlandish behavior, reminding the audience there can be multiple forms of fantastic comedic talent.

"Due Date" is a messy 100 minutes of a film that uses every trick in the humor playbook. Be on the lookout for the rest-stop scene in the bathroom where Galifianakis goes in a full circle of emotions. It's not exactly a Grammy-winning performance, but it will leave you laughing, wincing and, finally, crying all in a matter of seconds.

Galifinakis' sweaty, tactless and impulsive character takes "Due Date" to a whole new level of vulgarity, and some jokes go entirely too far for comfort. But that's to be expected in an R-rated comedy from Phillips, who likes to take advantage of the free creative rein he's been given.

The climax is a mad dash across the Mexican border, making this comedy anything but realistic. But by the end of the film, the audience realizes there had to be a dramatic feat to get Ethan in Peter's good graces.

"Due Date" leaves you wondering if there will be a sequel and if it will match up to "The Hangover 2," which hits theaters May 2011. Due to Ethan's obsession with Peter and Hollywood, if there is a "part two," it could be a comedy about stalking. Regardless, Phillips can't stay incognito any longer - he's mastered the art of creating perfectly hilarious buddy flicks.

Grade: B+