‘Due Date’ hilarious despite conventional plot

'Due Date' Pitchforks: 4 out of 5 Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx Rating: R Opens: Nov. 5

The first thought popping into anyone’s head after seeing the preview for “Due Date” was probably: “Yay, the second coming of Alan from ‘The Hangover.’”

Whether it was a sarcastic thought is a bit harder to determine. What’s easier to understand is that after seeing “Due Date,” thinking “Jeez, that was hilarious,” will be completely sincere.

Despite what may seem to be typecasting and a generic road-trip plot, the attentive casting, wit, superb acting from Robert Downey Jr. and even more adept improvising by Zach Galifianakis make “Due Date” one of the most hilarious films of the year.

The film could have failed in so many ways. Galifianakis’ bumbling idiot of a character, Ethan Tremblay, on the surface seems to be the identical twin of Alan from “The Hangover,” also played by Galifianakis. Yes, the two fictional personalities resemble each other, but they are different in just the right ways. Tremblay is a bumbling, effeminate, delusional quasi-psychopath, whereas Alan was just a harmless idiot savant.

Unfortunately for Peter Highman (Downey Jr.), Tremblay’s stupidity puts those around him in dangerous situations.

In the airport, on his way home to see the birth of his baby, Highman meets Tremblay, unwittingly switches bags with him and ends up sitting near him in first class. Tremblay strikes up a conversation, eventually blurting out the words “bomb” and “terrorist.” When Highman tries to persuade Tremblay to not discuss such taboo topics, he ends up looking like the bad guy and gets kicked off the plane. After being discovered with Tremblay’s drug paraphernalia, Highman gets put on a no-fly list along with Tremblay, who manages to hold onto his ID and wallet, which lets him rent a car.

Highman loses his personal belongings, and, without any other choices, agrees to drive from Atlanta to Los Angeles with Tremblay and his dog, in hopes of arriving in time to see his child’s birth.

From there, the film follows the conventions of any road-trip- centered film. They have to get from point A to point B as fast as they can, without anything going smoothly. This is the second thing in the film that could have turned the movie into a mundane and forgettable experience. Instead, the duo get into such unique, disastrously funny situations that the conventional plot is forgotten in a sea of laughter.

The cameos, no doubt brought to fruition by the connections of director and co-writer Todd Phillips (“The Hangover,” “Old School”), compliment the already comically sharp acting of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis. Featuring the likes of Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx, RZA, Juliette Lewis and Matt Walsh, the nuances of each cameo help make “Due Date” uproariously hilarious.

Galifianakis’ portrayal of Tremblay gets all the easy laughs, but without the exceedingly straight man of Downey Jr.’s Highman, Tremblay would just be treading water in a pool of laughs. Galifianakis gives Tremblay just the right amount of oblivion and foolishness to keep him lovable, while Downey Jr. gives Highman just enough of a defensive attitude to disguise his good heart and avoid alienating everyone.

The precision acting, great cameos, superb writing and seasoned comedic directing all combine to make “Due Date” one of the year’s funniest films, cementing Phillips as one of this generations most talented directors of comedy.

Reach the reporter at pmelbour@asu.edu

Watch a video review here.


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