Who’s In It: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, RZA, Matt Walsh
The Basics: Uptight architect Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) meets feckless wannabe actor Ethan (Zach Galifianakis) one fateful day when Ethan’s clueless shenanigans get both of them banned from an ATL-LAX flight. Stuck without his luggage, wallet, and I.D., Peter agrees to drive cross country with his new French bulldog-toting frenemy in order to get home to his pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) and witness the birth of his son. Naturally this leads to horrible car accidents, accidental drug trips, the Grand Canyon, shouting matches, violent outbursts, men crying, and a law-breaking detour over the border into Mexico before the odd couple strike an improbable BFFship and nothing bad ever happens again – at least, not until the inevitable sequel.
What’s The Deal: Have you seen even one of the trailers for Due Date? Then you’ve seen 99% of the best jokes in the film. And yes, it’s basically Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, minus the earned sentiment and John Hughes cred. They're opposites – how funny! They’re stuck together in a rental car with a masturbating dog and a double dose of unresolved daddy issues – how original! Only none of these hijinks are executed in clever or memorable ways, leaving you with the feeling that you’re the one who’s stuck on a journey with characters you don’t particularly like, desperate to get to the final destination that is the end credits.
Everybody Loves Galifianakis: The bearded one plays wanton obliviousness like nobody’s business; he’s pretty much the only reason to watch Due Date, aside from Juliette Lewis’s second crackerjack cameo-length appearance of the year as a stay-at-home mom-slash-weed dealer. (She’s got much better teeth here than she did in Conviction, the thought of which still gives me the willies.) Most surprisingly, Galifianakis turns a mean-spirited truck stop bathroom scene into an unexpectedly moving moment, showing more emotional range here than his serious actor Oscar-nominated co-star is allowed.
Why Due Date’s Emotional Man-Bonding Nevertheless Rings False: The film functions as a series of acting exercises for its two leads: Galifianakis, the best straight-faced comedian working today, plays around with the unnerving potential of awkward confrontational comedy, while Downey spends the movie barely containing his character’s rage. But not only is it not fun watching Downey pick relentlessly on Galifianakis, it feels contrived and hollow when the two suddenly become best friends. Due Date would like us to believe that the bond between fathers and sons is what brings these two together (one carries his recently deceased dad’s ashes in a coffee can, the other is about to become a parent), but the thought never coheres genuinely enough to be believed.
Who Will Love Due Date More Than Anyone Else: Fans of the television sitcom Two and a Half Men, which gains more relevance here than it ever deserves to thanks to Galifianakis, whose character is an uber-fan of the show. To answer your next question: Yes, Two and a Half Men fan sites actually do exist, which makes the world a much scarier place than we’d ever thought.