johnlink ranks DUE DATE (2010)

This is the Robert Downey Jr./Zach Galifianakis black comedy which has the former trying to cross the country with no money or identification in time for his child’s birth. The latter tags along, mostly ruining every situation they encounter. I will see any Downey Jr. film I can. Galifianakis, though his shtick can grow tiresome, has won me over with his quality work in the HBO sitcom BORED TO DEATH. I was excited to see this, to be sure.

I watched DUE DATE (2010) on 11.24.11 (Thanksgiving!). It was my first viewing of the film.

The tone of this movie is very strange. The sense of reality fluctuates between nearly real-life, and something undeniably otherworldly. Downey Jr. starts the film with a monologue telling of a dream he’s had. There were at least three points in this thing where I distinctly suspected that someone was about to wake up. Instead, all the crazy and zany things that happen DO happen.

Downey Jr. plays a real prick. He’s as unlikable as any lead character in awhile. Galifianakis is a loser. He has no clue about anything, doesn’t know about basic social functionality, and is equally unlikable. How you end up rooting for these two is beyond me, but you end up doing it anyway. However, I never bought Downey Jr.’s transition from loathing Galifianakis to liking him. As far as I can tell, the moral here is that it takes drugs to make you like someone. It’s one of the major tonal misfires in the film, and I’m not sure if it is the directing, or if a scene is missing, but I don’t buy it.

There are some great moments in this, both tender and outrageously funny. Galifianakis breaking down while ‘acting’ for Downey Jr. is one of the nicest moments of his career in terms of showing emotion. A scene at the Grand Canyon is comically perfect. However, the sinew which holds the entire thing together does not quite work for me. Of course, this is all subjective. One man’s ANCHORMAN (which I could not even finish) is another man’s LIAR, LIAR. This sort of tight rope walking worked for me in the recently reviewed KISS KISS BANG BANG. But it is a near miss here.

Michelle Monaghan is mostly wasted. I suppose they cast a big name actor so that you cared about Downey Jr. getting back to her, as well as to soften him a bit. After all, if Michelle Monaghan likes him, there must be something good about his character.

Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis (whom I usually loathe), and Danny McBride are all great in cameos. Although, Foxx’s character creates the biggest problems with the film. Something comes up concerning Foxx and Monaghan which is never properly resolved. And, when the movie is finished, ask yourself about Foxx’s vehicle, what happened to it, and how could there possibly be a positive resolution as a result of where it is.

Ultimately, I laughed quite a bit. Perhaps this is a comedy which needs to grow on you. But Galifianakis’ randomly inspired comedic flare doesn’t help ground this film, and Downey Jr.’s manic assholiness doesn’t either. This is an untethered  comedy which, frankly, could use a rope.

I’d still, despite all this, say it is worth seeing for its great moments. I’m often harder on movies which are nearly there as opposed to those which outright suck because I really want them to be what they could be. This doesn’t make the list of ‘crap’ movies, not by a long shot. I just wish it had a little more.





~ by johnlink00 on November 26, 2011.

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