The Hangover was a huge hit and director Todd Phillips clearly hoped to repeat its success with his latest directorial effort Due Date. Bringing back Zach Galifianakis, Due Date contains much of the same gross out, crude humour that proved so winning in The Hangover, yet Due Date is crucially lacking in charm.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Peter Highman, an architect on his way home to Los Angeles to be present for his wife’s planned caesarean. Upon arrival at the airport, after a minor car incident involving Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), Peter boards the plane, only to find himself sitting by the aforementioned Ethan. After yet another altercation between the two, the pair find themselves on the no-fly list. With both destined for L.A. , and a deadline to keep (for Peter the birth of his child, for aspiring actor Ethan, a meeting with an agent) they decide to drive the few thousand miles cross-country.
Thus begins a series of seemingly hilarious events, each incident becoming increasingly ridiculous as the film progresses, desperately attempting to cling to any semblance of comedic appeal. Admittedly a film which involves a grown adult punching a child, a masturbating dog (a focal point of two scenes), along with a man who needs to masturbate in order to sleep, is certainly not making any effort to win awards, but even for a film that is lewd from the outset, Due Date plumbs new depths.
There has surely never been a comedy with two less likeable leads; both are selfish, mean and idiotic, with neither making any attempt to make the audience care about their fate. Their ill-fated journey and their predictable eventual friendship has not only been down before, but been down almost exactly the same, and far better.
Many may have noted the similarities to the sublime Trains, Planes and Automobiles but not until viewing the film do the similarities turn from coincidental, to just outright lazy scriptwriting. Both films involve the leads meeting in a situation involving a car; they both then meet again at the airport and are forced to drive to their destination. Both have a deadline to keep, and both involve an emotional back-story to the John Candy/ Zach Galifianakis character.
What made Planes, Trains and Automobiles so good, and what makes Due Date so, to put it mildly, bad are the lead characters themselves. Candy and Steve Martin were both likeable, relatable and genuinely entertaining characters, Downey and Galifianakis are none of these. Due Date is entirely unlikeable, entirely not funny, and entirely unempathetic.