"Due Date," directed by Todd Phillips ("The Hangover"), is a road trip comedy about two mismatched characters driving from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr., "Iron Man 2"), is an architect who needs to find a way home to see the birth of his child, and Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis, "The Hangover"), who aspires to break into the television business. Together, they must survive the road, and each other, in order to reach their destinations.
Other than the concept, there really is no story or story arc in this film. Most of the events are character driven, based on character interactions and relationships. As a result, random events happen during the course of the movie, which is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, "Due Date" is one of those movies where the randomness is beneficial, keeping the road trip fresh.
To make up for lack of story, the characterization is pretty good. Highman is a more serious character, and Tremblay is over-the-top, weird and goofy. Unfortunately, a lot of the jokes are hit or miss, despite the best efforts of both actors. Some of the jokes just don’t land well or go way too far and this ends up being the film’s biggest flaw, since the entire movie is built on comedy. However, when the jokes do work they are hilarious. But that makes the bad jokes even more obvious, and they stick with you as the movie continues, because some of those jokes become running gags.
The film’s few serious moments seem like they belong in a different movie, and are, ultimately, too short to impact the characters or the audience.
However, the film is still very funny, especially during the random events. It keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next to the characters, makes you want to see how much worse their situation can ultimately get before the end, or if they will even get to their destination in the first place. This is where the movie shines and Phillips shows his talent for directing comedies. Downey does a wonderful job of portraying Highman, especially when he is at his breaking point, and Galifianakis brings enough physical humor to the portrayal as the crazy and over-the-top Tremblay. Constant scenery changes enhance the random events by making them more believable and, as a result, all the more funny and enjoyable.
When the humor in "Due Date" works, it works very well. However, the lame humor and odd serious moments are still hard to ignore. "Due Date" is a very funny movie and is definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the concept. However, the film is not as funny as "The Hangover," and is bound to leave audiences that expect it to be to be disappointed.