Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Due Date

Directed by Todd Phillips. 2011. Rated R, 95 minutes. Cast: Robert Downey Jr. Zach Galifianakis Jamie Foxx Michelle Monaghan Danny McBride Juliette Lewis

In Atlanta on business, Peter (Downey) is about to board a plane home to Los Angeles in plenty of time for the birth of his first child. His wife Sarah (Monaghan) is scheduled to have a C-Section in five days. A not-so-lucky chance meeting with an aspiring actor named Ethan (Galifianakis) sends his life spiraling out of control. Because of Ethan, Peter is kicked off the plane. He’s subsequently put on the “no fly” list, doesn’t have his wallet containing all his money and ID and is put into the position of having to ride across the country with the delusional and less than intelligent Ethan.

Downey gives us a perfect straight man. He plays Peter’s mostly humorless personality to the hilt. His job is to build on the humor initiated by others. He does this flawlessly by reacting to things not always as most of us would, but the way most of us would like. It’s over the top, but just enough to keep from becoming totally presposterous. The effect is that the initial joke makes us laugh and Downey’s reaction makes us laugh even more.

The job of getting us laughing in the first place is most often handled by Galifianakis. Much like his work in The Hangover, his character is completely oblivious to the inappropriateness of what he’s doing until after the fact. It’s a tactic that works brilliantly time and again. This is due in large part to the way he plays the role. His antics are outlandish but he plays it as if what he’s doing is completely natural.

From time to time, other are brought in to help create humor onscreen. The cameo by Danny McBride is most successful. Offscreen, director Todd Phillips handles the load with relative ease. With the aforementioned The Hangover as well as Old School and a few others under his belt, he’s proven adept at taking silly premises and making them far funnier than they should be. Many comedies throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. Once again, he seems able to throw the right things.

MY SCORE: 7.5/10

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