From the director of The Hangover (Todd Phillips), this is reminiscent of the classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles, where Steve Martin and John Candy get locked together into a car to cross the country under a due date. In Due Dates, it’s because Peter’s (Robert Downey Jr.) wife is about to have a baby and he needs to get from Atlanta to Los Angeles. In Planes, Trains and Automobiles, it was getting home before Christmas.
Peter is a traveling business man. Curbside at the airport he runs into Ethan (Zach Galifianakis). Ethan, like John Candy, has a black cloud over him and misfortune after misfortune overcomes him as they try to make their way to Los Angeles.
The scenes are similar to those in The Hangover. The same in-your-face bad-taste humor, including masturbation, vomiting, getting beat up, car crashes, arrests by the stereotypically corrupt Mexican border authorities and doors ripped off of cars is lined up scene after scene to make us think this is all funny. Sometimes it even is. Mostly it’s over the top.
The Hangover was full of surprise twists and mysteries that threaded it all together to make a perfectly funny and entertaining movie. Planes, Trains and Automobiles built strong characters and brought human emotions to the forefront to deal with the major misfortunes. Due Date is trying to do that, it’s kind of working, but the formula is too obvious and seems scripted for Hollywood-fed audiences. I can see that the date-and-movie crowd will call this “very funny” but to me it was just light, crude and entertaining. I laughed.