Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Been There, Road-Tripped That -- Reflections on "Due Date" (2010)

Doesn't this look like the set-up of a bad joke?

I have never been a fan of CBS' Two and Half Men. It's a comedy show predicated on canned laughter, stereotyped performances, and cliched, inneundo-heavy banter between its stars.

It's also the most popular sitcom in America (Modern Family is not a sitcom), averaging about 13.5 million viewers a week.

In Todd Phillip's follow-up to The Hangover, Due Date, Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifinakis) is a wide-eyed, pot-smoking, dense clod who runs a Two and a Half Men website called www.itsrainingtwoandahalfmen.com. It's this TV show that gives him inspiration to go to Hollywood and try to get his big break in the movie industry. While Ethan's character is, for the most part, compelling and original, unfortunately the material Phillip's and his three other writers provided him is about as unique as a plot of Ethan's favorite show.

The film stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Peter Highman (thanks to Meet the Parents, comedy filmmakers are now trying to find the punniest names possible -- what's next: Johnny Cocksucker?). Peter is on his way home to L.A. because his wife is scheduled to have a C-section later in the week and he can't miss the birth of his first child. Unfortunately for Peter, at the airport he encounters Ethan, to whom danger, destruction, and all its brethren are attracted. Due to Ethan's use of the words "bomb" and "terrorist," they are both kicked off their flight and placed on a no-fly list. This, of course, means, they are now stuck together on a road trip from Georgia to California for the next few days.

Cue mapcap scenes involving waffle houses, car wrecks, uncomfortable questions, pot smoking and masturbating dogs.

Downey, Jr. and Galifinakis do everything they possibly can, getting the most "mileage" out of the weak material, and almost making it work. If it weren't for the heavy-handed bromance scenes near the end of the movie, the comedy may have had the darker tone it could have used to separate itself from better road trip comedies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

I get the joke that Ethan's love of Two and Half Men is supposed to show how clueless he is, but when the film's writing is about as stale as that sitcom's, it's hard not to miss the irony.

1 comment:

  1. You have convinced me not to see it! And yes, I occasionally enjoy Two and a Half Men too! Good job on the review Dollins!