The odd couple

Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis team up in “Due Date.”

Ethan (Galifianakis) and Peter (RDJ) hitting another bump in the road.

Ethan (Galifianakis) and Peter (RDJ) hitting another bump in the road.

Tony Libera

âÄúDue DateâÄù

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx

Rated: R

Showing at: Area theaters

 

The road movie is one of those genres thatâÄôs so deeply engrained in our culture that thereâÄôs almost no chance of taking a novel approach to the story. Cars will be wrecked and cops will chase the heroes down in âÄúDukes of HazzardâÄù fashion; wackiness will escalate in all its not-so-serendipitous forms. With that in mind, the success of the movie ultimately winds up in the hands of its cast. âÄúDue DateâÄù is not without a fair amount talent, but in the end thatâÄôs not enough to overcome the color-by-numbers plot.

The movie follows the short-tempered Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) as he attempts to get from Atlanta to Los Angeles for birth of his first child. He has a dream the night before his departure of a bear holding his child and gnawing through the umbilical chord, a sight he takes for a good omen. The next day at the airport he crosses paths with the bumbling and bearded Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), a walking mass of destruction headed for Hollywood. Ethan lands Peter on the no-fly list through an onboard altercation, PeterâÄôs bags are confiscated and, without a credit card, he is forced to accept help from the very man who got him into this mess.

âÄúDue DateâÄù plays out as an amalgamation of two of director Todd PhillipsâÄô previous movies âÄî âÄúRoad TripâÄù and âÄúThe Hangover.âÄù Phillips clearly has a knack for the comedic, but surprisingly itâÄôs the deeper, more affecting moments regarding EthanâÄôs background that are the most memorable. The laughs are there, but they sometimes feel stale because âÄúDue DateâÄù is just too reminiscent of past works, especially when it comes to GalifianakisâÄô character.

Ethan Tremblay is essentially the exact same character as Alan Garner of âÄúThe HangoverâÄù âÄî an awkward simpleton who lacks even a basic understanding of normal social behavior and whose actions continually damage the lives of everyone in his orbit. ItâÄôs funny enough, and the old women in the audience sure get a kick out of his brazen outlandishness, but Galifianakis is so talented and his humor so intelligent that itâÄôs a shame heâÄôs only now getting credit for playing characters that are not only completely moronic, but also downright sociopathic. That shouldnâÄôt take away anything from his performance, though. âÄúDue DateâÄù shows that Galifianakis possesses not only comedic grace, but some serious acting chops, as well.

Playing the straight man to GalifianakisâÄô substantial ridiculousness is no easy task, but Robert Downey Jr. holds his own, keeping the actual plot rolling and getting in some decent laughs on the side.

At root, âÄúDue DateâÄù is nothing more than a vehicle for the interplay between Galifianakis and RDJ. When it doesnâÄôt dissolve into irrelevant sidebars and straight-up illogicality, it passes as a by-the-books, popcorn-selling road flick.

 

2/4 Stars