Goofy Road Trip Movies: Due Date Review
Two of this century’s highest-grossing and renowned comedic personalities have banded together for an outrageous and unforgettable cross-country adventure. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?
Too bad we got Due Date.
More: Read our other road trip movie reviews and find one you’ll like
After a series of exasperating mishaps, Peter Highman (Get it? It’s an analogous name for his pompous personality and a lewd anatomy joke!) is grounded from flying to Los Angeles for the birth of his first child. Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifanikis), a socially-stunted stoner and the cause of said mishaps, intends to make his Hollywood debut.
He becomes Peter’s only chance of getting to the west coast. Being forced to drive together, the mismatched pair of exaggerated personalities struggle to find common ground, as Peter finds Ethan intolerable.
Along the way, Ethan continues to push Peter’s patience to the limits with his unpleasant behavior, while Peter struggles with his conscience. The majority of their trip is spent entering and escaping situations such as capture by the border police, abuse by a handicapped bank teller, and getting shot. Classic road trip fodder.
After finding himself grounded with Peter, Ethan rents a fitting paprika-shaded 2010 Subaru Impreza for their journey west.
The fuel economy performance of the vehicle is unimpressive (estimated between 17 and 27 MPG) for a road trip expedition, considering the variety of cars in the rental lot. The color is generally loud and unattractive, much like the character of Ethan. Its hatchback cargo space offers room for their luggage and the small interior forces the two uncomfortably close to each other during their drive. Being that both characters run out of money, it also functions as a mobile hotel for them.
Subaru did confirm that they were involved in the product placement for Due Date, but being an unpaid sponsorship, the filmmakers were able to do a lot of outrageous and inappropriate things to the vehicle.
To Peter, the vehicle represents the upper hand. As he yearns to ditch Ethan and regain control of his circumstances, the vehicle subjects him to Ethan’s presence and is a method of escape from it (which Peter briefly does, before feeling guilty).
However, to Ethan, the Impreza is a method of congenial assistance. He can’t understand why people would prefer to travel alone, and, having lost his dad, he’s desperately in need of companionship during his grieving, which the car facilitates.
After wrecking the Impreza halfway through the film, which proudly showed off the vehicle’s noteworthy safety, the remainder of their trip is distributed among a variety of minor vehicles. This includes a brief stint with Peter’s friend Darryl (Jamie Foxx), whose 1979 Dodge Power Wagon allows Peter a brief advantage to repay Ethan for his abuse. Again, the vehicle designates dominance.
Eventually, their vehicle (the one they steal together) becomes a way for them to rescue each other, and ultimately Peter concedes to Ethan’s vision of the vehicle that expedites their male bonding.
Our Due Date Review
Due Date was delivered to us by perpetual-adolescent writer/director Todd Philips, who is no stranger to road trip films. In fact, he’s been using the same formula for twelve years, beginning with his breakout success, Road Trip, which was also covered by The News Wheel. Zach Galifanakis’ presence and awkward man-child humor also indicates Philips’ recent face-breaking success with The Hangover the previous year.
With Philips being a veteran of road trips, does the script and directing feel safe, formulaic, and phoned-in? Definitely so.
Little sets Due Date apart from the myriad of other road trip misadventures out there, especially Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. All this 2010 rehash did was deliver the same story with contemporary characters. And, the only way it thought to set itself apart was a number of gross-out gags and outlandish characters.
The film does work at times, but only when it’s sympathetically understated. With as witty and clever as the premise was, too bad the comedic moments don’t land as solidly as the dramatic ones.
Despite all the wild and wacky roads it travels, Due Date will leave you stranded for laughs.
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