Sunday, October 9, 2011

Due Date

By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(95 min, 2010)
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Alan R. Cohen (screenplay), Alan Freedland (screenplay)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis and Michelle Monaghan
Growing up.

Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) must get to LA in five days to be at the birth of his firstborn. He is about to fly home from Atlanta when his luggage and wallet are stolen, and he is put on the "no-fly" list. Desperate to get home Peter is forced to accept the offer of Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) to hitch a ride with him cross-country. Peter is about to go on a terrifying and agonizing journey of his life.

The movie begins with a scene that is not funny at all. We get to see close up of Peter, lying on the bed, describing his dream. He is talking to his wife, who is miles away from him. This scene sets the tone for entire movie – it suggests we will get to experience something surreal, important and personal. The journey of two strangers who will end up being friends. And who will, finally, take control in their lives.

I had no high expectations, the critics stated in few reviews that the movie is “completely unfunny”. Out of all the things written about this movie, this one is the biggest lie – the film has many incredibly hilarious sequences and fantastic dialogues. Mexico, accidental firing of a gun, crazy beating Peter takes and when he loses it and then tries to patch things up with Ethan are so funny at one point I almost fell off my chair. But hilarious scenes are actually often seen in movies. “Due Date” is especially surprising because never before had I seen a comedy that mixes hilarious scenes with heartbreaking and tender ones, so rapidly and unexpectedly changing the tone of the sequence. At one point I was laughing, 10 seconds later I was covering my mouth in shock and 30 seconds later I was feeling very sorry for the characters and wanted them to be happy again.


There is a scene in the movie, known from the trailers were ashes are accidentally drunk as coffee. The scene begins as a hilarious one but ends being sad and then, uplifting. Throughout the movie, through the changes of location, tone and the level of attachment in our main characters to one another we observe the birth of unlikely and strange friendship. What I loved is that the scenes and words in this movie are so brave – you will hear things here you wouldn't expect to hear in the comedy from the creator of “The Hangover”. Some of the scenes are painfully cruel – like the one were Peter yells at Ethan and says incredibly mean things to him. Some scenes are funny but you feel almost dirty for laughing at them. And there is one masterful sequence with Pink Floyd playing in the background that felt like pure magic. And if you saw trailers – you didn't see it all – some hilarious scenes from the trailer are actually much darker in the movie.

I saw most of Robert Downey Jr.'s movies and this is one of the times were I think “this is why he is my favorite actor”. Any other actor in any other similar movie would make Peter a one dimensional character. Downey and the script give Peter so many layers – he is arrogant, unpleasant guy who pretends to be a boy scout whilst having some serious issues. He never did drugs (Downey actually says “I never did drugs in my life” - it was another dark joke, having read all those nightmarish stories from his past I just smiled and appreciated the irony and Downey keeping straight face as he said this) but so what? He is trying to keep the facade of being nice and polite but he is able to keep it for mere seconds – he has serious anger issues and at one point of the movie I was actually petrified of him. It is the third time, after one scene in “Sherlock Holmes” and “Tropic Thunder” were Downey resembled Mel Gibson. Peter keeps threatening Ethan throughout the movie and you think he will never do anything, because it's a comedy. And when the Grand Canyon scene arrives it's not scary because of what Peter does – it's about what he is capable of doing. He looks like he could rip anyone apart, entire army of people. If I met Downey with that look on his face this would be the first and only case when I'd surely run away as fast as I could and I worship the guy. But we root for Peter – he is sweet to his wife, he wants to give his child a mascot he carries with him through the mayhem of the journey and when Ethan is feeling down Peter is man enough to comfort him. Downey had his gold funny moments in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “Sherlock Holmes” but here, when during the crazy escape from the border patrol he is in the middle of a trailer being dragged by a car and he yells '”what the fuck?!” he totally won roar of laughter from everyone.

Zack Galifianakis doesn't exactly repeat his performance from “The Hangover” - he takes it to another, crazier level. He is just as cute here, but he is more heartbreaking – the bathroom scene was really great, I didn't expect him to have such talent. His character is dangerously irresponsible, maybe not stupid but very, very strange and overall peculiar. But he is a good guy, his intentions aren't bad for a second in this movie. Ethan has just lost his father and he feels alone. His only companion is his dog Sonny so he instantly reaches out to Peter, looking for a friend and companionship. Because of his good heart his big flaws are being overlooked in the end, because let's face it – those two would never make it alone.

Peter would never grow up without Ethan – he comforts him, takes care of him, helps him deal with grief. Ethan rescues Peter even though he has no obligation to him and Peter was very mean to him multiple times. In the end those are the events caused by Ethan that resulted in many disasters, but he still manages to save the day in the end.

The movie is misguidedly marketed as the trailers and posters proudly say “from the director of “The Hangover””. The only things those movies have in common are Zack Galifianakis and Wolfmother's song. “The Hangover” was a hilarious comedy about fun and parties. This is half-comedy with impossible car crashes, funny lines and deliveries (-Are you ready to apologize? - What?! FUCK YOU!!!), pot smoking and sex jokes obligatory in 21st century comedy and half-drama about dealing with the loss of a parent, preparing for scary responsibility, the beginning of the friendship and growing up.

I wasn't expecting the music and cinematography to be that good – the movie has many beautiful shots and the songs fit the scenes perfectly. It is extremely well done and I can't remember the last time I was that engaged in watching the movie. Every time I see a film at one point my thoughts will fly somewhere else. Today I'm not sure I was even aware that I was in the cinema. The movie has so many events, the things happen so quickly and I cared about Peter and Ethan so much I did not want this journey to end. It's not about the pace – there are few slower, more serious scenes in the movie. It's because Ethan and Peter are not just figures who say funny lines – they are real, imperfect people with real issues and demons.

Don't expect next “The Hangover”. Expect smart, witty movie about boys becoming men. “Due Date” has great performances from two leads, fantastic supporting cast, hilarious and bittersweet scenes. It's one of the most surprising movies I've seen in a long time – you may expect what's about to happen, but you won't be able to predict whether it will make you laugh uncontrollably or put you in peaceful, nostalgic mood. A true roller-coaster ride.

85/100

2 comments:

  1. I liked the film much better than "Hangover" just because of this rollercoaster ride thing. For example when Peter tells how his father left the family - it is a very sad scene which shows how good RDJ can be in serious roles. And the funny things are very funny indeed.

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    1. That was an amazing scene! I think that the backlash the movie recieved was due to the fact people expected the second Hangover and this one was very bitter sweet.

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