Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The power of casting.  Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifanakis are terrific as mismatched travel companions in Todd Philips’ frequently laugh-out-loud funny Due Date, the follow up to his mega-successful (and career-changing) The Hangover.  And while Due Date isn’t as raunchy as last summer’s box office behemoth, overall, I think the new film is a tad better.  While I found The Hangover to be an extremely funny studio comedy with plenty of memorable bits, the schematics of the plot and the overall predictability of the narrative sometimes kept me at arms length.  With Due Date, Philips gets to have some of his usual perverted, stoner fun, but the humor here is decidedly darker and edgier.  While not something totally in the vein of last year’s uncompromising masterwork Observe and Report, Due Date’s main protagonist (Downey Jr.) is a bit of a dick, and the way he treats his lovable companion (Galifanakis) is a bit hostile and violent in many scenes.  Like Midnight Run (one of the best “buddy comedies” of all-time), the action in Due Date revolves around two guys who have to trek across the country.   Downey Jr. needs to get home for the birth of his first child (wife is set for a C-section so there's your ticking-clock element to the script) and Galifanakis is headed to Hollywood to become a television star.  They’re the last two people who’d ever be friends, let alone take a road-trip together.  From there, Philips and his three screenwriting partners devise one problem after another for the duo; car chases, shoot-outs, beat-downs – you name it, it happens.  And while it’s all in good fun and mostly harmless, there’s an undercurrent of anger running through parts of Due Date – it’s definitely the most subversive film that Philips has made so far.  The immediately likable presence of Downey Jr. becomes skewed because his character is such an asshole, and as usual, Downey Jr. does a stellar and completely effortless job of never feeling like he’s acting.   Galifanakis is a clown’s clown and simply put, one of the funniest people currently breathing air on this planet.  He immediately elevates average material and when he's got good stuff to work with, there's no end to his brilliance.  I've been loving his work on the slyly funny HBO series Bored to Death, and in Due Date, he's the funniest I've seen him yet.  Also, it’s worth noting that Philips genuinely cares how his comedies look.  Lawrence Sher’s crisp and vibrant widescreen cinematography is a major plus and a reminder that Hollywood comedies don’t need to look like shit.  And watch out for some amazing cameos.  

No comments: