The first thing I thought about Due Date when I left the theater was that it reminded me of a late 80's or early 90's comedy that I would have grown up watching, and probably loved. It's very funny, and I can imagine it being a memorable comedy if it were made that long ago. Then I realized it was made that long ago. It was called Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.
The thing about Todd Phillips is that he makes movies that make you feel good, but at the end of the day, there's no real reason for the movie to have been made. Due Date is kind of like The Hangover, yet the tension is severely lowered due to the fact that most of the events are so ridiculous that you simply cannot buy them. When I don't buy what's going on, I feel no tension, and I begin to care less about what's happening. For example, when their car careens off the freeway, flies 50 feet, and lands facedown on the asphalt, it's quite obvious to me that this should be the end of the movie. No one can live through that. However, they do, and they proceed to encounter other nearly impossible obstructions like escaping from the INS and being severely beaten by a crippled man.
There is one reason that these things do not make me hate this movie. It's a tiny detail, but it's something I've noticed Todd Phillips has done on most of his work. His "movies" aren't "films" - they say so right in the beginning. Todd Phillips may be the only director I've ever seen who has a credit in the openings that says, "A Todd Phillips Movie". This type of thing really matters to me because, above all, Phillips is acknowledging the fact that the soul reason behind the making of his movies is for entertainment value. It's a smart move, because it ultimately gets me to grade him more generously.
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is trying to get home to his pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan). This is complicated when Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) gets both of them on the no-fly list due to his absolute incompetence. Just like Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, the two must roadtrip back to LA to arrive in time for the birth of Peter's child.
Downey Jr., big shock, is hilarious. I'm not really sure why it took the world this long to understand what a brilliant actor he is, but it seems like only in the last four or five years has he really gotten the fandom he deserves. He elevates Peter from a miserable dick to a half-lovable and hilarious guy. Galifianakis plays Ethan almost identically to Alan in The Hangover. I love the man, but it seems like he only has two characters he can draw on, the vulgar and the happy-go-lucky. He does both moderately well, but when you think about Clark Duke, a much younger actor, it's not going to be enough pretty soon. Ethan's character is given a lot more depth than Alan, and Galifianakis pull it off moderately well. That's the best I have to say about that.
If "Oh, come on," is one of your favorite movie-going phrases, then you may wish to avoid this one. If originality of plot and cleverness of story is something you crave, you may wish to avoid this one. But if you just want to have a good laugh and forget about this crazy messed up world of ours for an hour and 40 minutes, go ahead and see it. And remember, it's not a film - it's a movie.