Saturday, November 06, 2010

‘Date’ grates

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis star in the formulaic road trip-odd couple comedy “Due Date,” about two mismatched strangers forced to accompany each other for many grueling hours en route to Los Angeles.

The laughs come in due time; Downey plays Peter, a sensitive and seemingly calm guy with anger issues, while Galifianakis plays an inconsiderate and eccentric aspiring actor, Ethan, with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. Peter needs to be in LA for the birth of his child, and must bear with Ethan’s consistently weird and boneheaded behavior throughout the long trip.

Directed by “The Hangover’s” Todd Phillips, “Due Date” is often crude and gross. Galifianakis’ stoner-oddball character is a variation on his previous role in “Hangover,” but the bigger focus doesn’t mean that it’s more clearly defined. Sure, he misses his recently deceased father a lot, which allows for sad (and uncomfortable) moments. But the contrived quirkiness makes it hard to feel sympathy for the guy.

Downey’s tense and desperate character has a really funny scene involving “babysitting” a pair of kids, but he just doesn’t figure in a scene as gut-busting later. The actor is still able to make the somewhat two-dimensional role real; it does feel that he’s going through hell, but more importantly, he makes the struggle to give his companion several chances credible. All in all, there are serious thigh-slappers, but the movie’s pretty thin and it’s a trip to love/hate-ville that we’ve taken before.

No comments: