‘Due Date’: The Reviews Are In!

Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. are 'so off in their chemistry as to be bizarrely on,' critic says.

“I think pressure is always a good thing,” director Todd Phillips told us a few months ago. “A lot of guys make a big hit movie on the size of ‘The Hangover’ and they get gun-shy. They wait a few years, … and I wanted to do the opposite. I wanted to do something again and not worry if it was going to be as big as ‘The Hangover’ because ‘The Hangover’ was lightning in a bottle.”

That, it was. “The Hangover” opened to $45 million in June 2009 on its way to becoming the #1 R-rated comedy of all time. And rather than drown in unrealistic expectations — or the swimming pool full of gold coins he could have built with the proceeds from “Hangover” — Phillips grabbed his old buddy Zach Galifianakis, threw Robert Downey Jr. into the mix, and came up with “Due Date.”

The comedy, as observers might expect, won’t do nearly the business “Hangover” did. But “Due Date” will end up with a hefty opening weekend — anything from a high-$20 million gross to a mid-$30 million one — marking a seriously impressive return to the big screen for Phillips.

Before heading to the theater this weekend, check out what critics are saying about “Due Date”:

The Story

Downey plays Peter, a high-handed guy whose wife (Michelle Monaghan) is about to have a baby. He’s headed home to Los Angeles after a business trip to Atlanta. But, as bad luck would have it, Peter collides with goony Ethan (Galifianakis). Disbelief must be suspended when Peter makes it through airport security in inadvertent possession of Ethan’s marijuana (allegedly for his glaucoma). As Peter, Downey insists, ‘I’ve never done drugs in my life,’ a line that is all the funnier given Downey’s past. Officials confiscate the drug, Peter is allowed to board the flight. But after an onboard ruckus involving Ethan’s protruding hairy belly, he and Ethan are tossed off and onto the no-fly list. Peter now must make the cross-country trip by car to arrive in time to see his baby born. But thanks to more contrived shenanigans, he has no credit card to rent a car. Ethan, however, manages to get a rental car, and the next thing you know, the two are sharing the front seat.” — Claudia Puig, target="_blank">USA Today

The Performances

“Playing to type as Ethan, Galifianakis, the ginger-bearded bear of a boy who shot to fame as the odd-duck brother of the bride in ‘The Hangover,’ is funny not because he is boorish but because he is immune to embarrassment. Playing against type as Peter, arbiter of appropriateness, Downey is funny because in spite of his character’s carefully managed rage, he loses control at the most inappropriate times.” — Carrie Rickey, target="_blank">The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Laughs

“Not all the jokes work, but when they do, it’s due to the perfect comic timing and chemistry that keeps you invested in this odd couple. While many of the best gags may be given away by the commercials, there is more than enough other things to explore in their relationship with a surprising amount of warmth and heart that makes it feel like a far more mature effort on Phillips’ part. Ultimately, ‘Due Date’ may not be nearly as clever as ‘The Hangover’ and its attempt to solve a ‘night before’ mystery, but it is a fairly satisfying film on its own merits, a fun experience that’s more than just an endless stream of jokes.” — Edward Douglas, target="_blank">ComingSoon.net

The Dissenters

“The basic problem is the script, which is credited to three writers plus the director — seldom a good sign. Never mind that it’s a retread of ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’ minus the trains, and minus John Candy. Retreads can hold the road, but this one doesn’t, despite some sporadically funny stuff. What, for example, are we to make of Ethan, confronted for the first time by the Grand Canyon, saying ‘I could’ve sworn I read it was man-made’? Or mistaking Mexico for Texaco after getting himself and Peter high on cannabis clouds in the confines of their car? Jokes like these leave you yearning for less.” — Joe Morgenstern, href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703805704575594190966454092.html?mod=WSJ_ArtsEnt_LifestyleArtEnt_2"
target="_blank">The Wall Street Journal

The Final Word

“The unexpected pairing of Galifianakis and Downey is a pleasure — they’re an unlikely duo so off in their chemistry as to be bizarrely on. At this point in his singular career, Downey has shaped his disarming self-aware F-U stare to perfection, while Galifianakis has a knack for making his eyes simultaneously convey exasperating insensitivity and exasperating blamelessness. The two men seem to fascinate each other. But Atlanta to L.A. is a long drive, during which Phillips can’t decide whether to go for the raunchy (lots of masturbation jokes) or the mushy (Ethan really loved his simple old dad, but Peter has more conflicting emotions about his). And so by the time the pair admire the Grand Canyon (time for major mush) and then arrive at the hospital where Wifey is in labor (time for mush plus jokes), ‘Due Date’ has lost its way, relying on its leading men to lead by charisma alone, even though their characters have nowhere interesting to go besides the happily-ever-after of dull, responsible male maturity.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, target="_blank">Entertainment Weekly

Check out everything we’ve got on “Due Date.”

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