Although I do openly admit to having a man-crush on Robert Downey Jr. and that I do admire him as an actor and a person, Downey managed to surprise me in his latest outing, Peter in Due Date. I would never have thought that Downey, a handsome leading man who is always cast as an attractive and amusing character, could portray a character so repulsive that he makes me loathe the character. This makes me respect Downey as an actor all the more so with a reason, he isn’t always a pretty boy with a persona, he can be something that wouldn’t be expected of him.
Due Date is the story of how Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to get in time from Atlanta to Los Angeles to see his child’s birth, and how horribly that can go wrong, and in many ways. For his journey Peter gets an unexpected fellow traveller in the form of Ethan Tremblay/Chase (Zach Galifianakis), who is the reason behind Peter’s unforeseen distress. You’d expect a pretty basic road movie with a distinctive cast, and that is pretty much what you get, but it does have a deeper level to it. At times the movie made me wonder whether I’m supposed to laugh or not in situations that were clearly comical, yet had an underlying sense of drama to it, take for example the scene in which Peter makes Ethan showcase his acting skills which turns sour in the end. At first I laughed at Ethan, but eventually I noticed I felt sorry for him, yet it wasn’t developed any further from there, really. It made me wonder why put half-assed dramatic moments in the movie at all if they are just left there, as if the drama bits were dismembered from a dramatic context and then transplanted to a comical context. They were a nice touch, mind you, but felt a bit outworldly because of their relative detachment from the material at hand.
The movie works mainly because of the main duo’s chemistry, and the makers seemed to have realised this in the making, since I’d say they were the focus of most scenes for about 90% of the time. I don’t complain though, both Downey and Galifianakis are great comedians and especially Downey is a great actor to boot with too. I’m not saying Galifianakis wouldn’t be a good actor, at least based on Due Date, but I’ve yet to see this hairy bear’s credentials (yes, he’s referred to a bear in the movie). As I said before, Downey plays a really repulsive and aggressive character with a soft spot and Galifianakis is an all around goof who doesn’t seem to have any kind of grasp on reality whatsoever, and mostly the comedy takes off from this premise. Peter can’t stand Ethan at all whereas Ethan is ever so friendly to him albeit the abuse Peter throws at him, but eventually Ethan starts to grow on Peter and they develop a friendship, as seems to be the case in all road movies.
The movie is far from a perfect comedy, yet it does have great appeal to it. I actually was quite unimpressed at the start of the movie but I soon noticed to be quite enjoying myself. It does get a bit tedious around halfway but the movie picks up the pace again towards the end, and the movie does manage to leave its viewer quite satisfied in the end. Well, at least my friend and I were. If you don’t like Downey Jr. and think he can’t act anything other than a pretty boy, I’d suggest you see Due Date even if you weren’t interested in the movie itself, I for one was pretty convinced of his performance and found myself wondering how can I truly be utterly repulsed by this character. The characters are the appeal of the movie, and it is made good use of. The score and soundtrack were brilliantly realised as well and I noticed myself naming songs during the movie, which is hardly ever a bad thing.
One thing I was left wondering though, is how does one teach a dog to play with itself…