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Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis in

"Due Date" | a film review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

You know how, when you go to the movies, many of the previews that show before the feature presentation are much in the same genre as the film you've come to see? That's how it was when I saw "Due Date" this afternoon, having not been able to get to an earlier screening.

The three movie trailers were about product being released in early 2011 that star some very familiar and successful Hollywood gents who are known for laughing all the way to the bank, which is very cool for anyone.

Anyhow, I won't give you the titles of these movies to come later, only to say that the leading men in each of them are alike in terms of each other, and of the two guys in the movie I'm going write about here.

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis have everything put on their collective four shoulders by director Todd Phillips to carry "Due Date" from start to finish. Too bad the script, by Phillips, Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland, makes it so difficult for this pair of skittish, quirky, ever low-balling actors who have way too much nervous energy to handle for more than ninety minutes at one sitting.

You see, this is another road movie... but wait, it's a buddy picture, too. Unlike old Route 66, it starts in Atlanta and goes more than 2000 miles all the way---to L A---with a script that's looking for something funny every furlong. Woe is you, if you see it: there's nary a guffaw to be found.

Peter (Downey) is rushing back to California to be with his wife, Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), in time for the birth of their first child. Guess who mucks it all up for Peter making it back to La La Land in one piece for the blessed event? Ethan (Galifianakis).

From where these fellows begin their in-tandem trip, it's a long way to San Jose, too... and for the screenplay, even though Ethan is mourning his father's recent passing, carrying his dad's ashes in a coffee can and his bulldog, Sunny, in a travel bag. Ethan is on his way out to Hollywood to be in the movies... or maybe a television sitcom. Gawd, "Two and a Half Men" is awesome.

Naturally, Peter is a successful architect and trying to (how can I say this?) eschew any interaction with Ethan, who's clearly a 23-year-old man destined to be the catalyst for several mishaps of many kinds. I don't think I'd be dropping a spoiler, here, if I told you these soon-to-be accidents would prove to play more heavily on the long-suffering Peter than they do Ethan. Robert Downey, Jr. is well-qualified to act the part of victim in anybody's movie.

"Due Date" is not only a buddy/road picture, but also, what I like to define in moviespeak as, an Irritation Photoplay. Everything that happens to these doofuses is overly annoying, while the actors, writers and director have attempted to make the characters' foibles funny---in a sort of symbiotic, sympathy-evoking way.

Furthermore, what else you shouldn't know about "Due Date," is, for some reason, the "focus group" assigned to this script has voted for a heavy laying-on of the sympathy thing. That's why there's all this reminiscing on the part of Peter and Ethan about their dads. Of course, Ethan is depressed over the recent death of his father... and Peter, in a serious moment, pours his heart out to Ethan about how his old man walked out back in the Seventies.

Both are appropriate points for most any narrative, but melding them with two jerk-offs scuffling to get as quickly as they can from Atlanta to L A, vehicularly---as both have been placed on the no-fly list by the government just because Ethan can't get anything right---is more of a stretch than Phillips and his appended writer buddies can muster.

Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis

Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis

Only brief appearances are made by Monaghan as well as Jamie Foxx as Peter's helpful, en route, Dallas friend and Juliette Lewis as Ethan's go-to "pharmacist," who prescribes him some kind of leafy, green substance for his nagging glaucoma problem. (Rated "R" for a leafy, green substance and routine utterances usually heard only in bars, pool halls and movies rated "R.")

I don't believe I remember having looked at my watch so often during a movie than I did while watching "Due Date" today. And all I had to do after seeing it was drive home to my PC and write this.

Dude, "Due Date's" a dud.

"Due Date" official site. Now showing.

See Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net,
Facebook.com/justin.playfair and Twitter.com/orwellingly.

Copyright © 2010, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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