Road trips seem like a fun idea on paper because of all the excitement they promise. There is the car crammed like a clown car full of duffle bags and people, mix tapes to sing joyously along to, snacks to munch on because restaurants are for the undedicated, etc. But once you are actually in the car the excitement quickly wanes and before you know it half your friends are asleep and someone is doing their seated pee pee dance. And just think, these are the car trips that we choose to take. Due Date is a completely different story.
In order to get to why two very different individuals are stuck on a cross-country road trip together we have to take a few steps back. When Peter Highman woke up this morning he thought his day was going to be pretty simple. All he had to do was get on a plane and fly home, giving him more than enough of a cushion to wait out the rest of his wife’s pregnancy before the due date. Then he came across a bump in the road, that bump being a man named Ethan Tremblay. Following a series of unfortunate events a plane is removed from the options of travel, and now Peter must sit in the passenger seat next to a man seriously capable of doing nothing but damaging his calm.
Not a minute goes by before Peter is most likely considering how to murder his driver and make it look like an accident so he can continue on with a solo trip, and it is easy to see why. Ethan is quite the talker with trains of thoughts that do not work by any rules that the usual thought trains follow, somewhat obnoxious and invasive to personal boundaries. Basically he would be the last person most sane individuals would want to spend large amounts of time with, and only the insane would be willing to jump in the backseat of this car. Good thing you don’t actually have to be in the car, so what would be a horrible experience if actually living it is now a hilarious joyride taken from the comfort of a cushy theater chair. Real life: 0, Cinema: 1.
Due Date racks up a ton of gold stars for its comedic magnificence. Situationally this is one of the most ridiculous road trips ever with hilarious event after event that would be funny enough on their own, but when stacked one on top of the other become a story of epic proportions that would seem completely made up in reality. If you haven’t done so then I would refrain from watching the preview because it does give a lot of the highlights away, but if you have already seen it then don’t be too worried about it because there is still a lot more where that came from.
The plotline does provide a lot of laughs, but it would hardly be as memorable as it is without the actors sharing the front portion of the car. Robert Downey Jr. plays Peter, the complete opposite of Zach Galifianakis’ Ethan Tremblay. Peter is the straight man of the two, a serious businessman with common sense, logic, and intelligence (this is not to say that he is in any way a black hole when it comes to comedy. It is just that most of the laughs from his end come in response to what he is dealing with). On the opposite end of the spectrum is Ethan, who basically has all of the qualities that Peter does not have. Each actor fits perfectly with the role they are given, bringing plenty of themselves to their characters, and their chemistry together as they clash against each other is perfect from start to finish.
Before seeing the film I was a little worried that I would leave the theater feeling a little underwhelmed as I had with the buddy cop inspired The Other Guys that blended over-the-top situations with polar opposite characters forced together, but Due Date did not leave me disappointed as that had. It is hilarious from the start of the trip to the end, and though I am still positive I would never want to actually experience a trip with these characters, I am glad I got to live vicariously through the film at a safe distance.
Final Grade: B