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DUE DATE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 2/22!

Due Date: Winning Personality
Due Date Trailer

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis
Director: Todd Phillips
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.4:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2011

I despise who you are on a cellular level.”

Okay, I've heard that before, and I'm trying to work on it.”

Film **

Due Date is another one of countless films that puts two mismatched characters together for a cross country journey. The only type of movie less original is the romantic comedy. So by default, you can't expect anything fresh and new from a picture like this. The only question you can ask is, is it funny?

The answer? Sometimes. But I admit, I've never been a fan of this type of film. I can't think of one I really liked. Due Date seemed to suffer a bit because it got compared a lot to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a film beloved by many, but again, completely unliked by me.

I just don't find much humor in taking a regular guy and having him tormented for an hour and half. What's to laugh about one terrible thing after another happening to a man who has only one simple wish...in this case, to make it to Los Angeles for the birth of his first child? Movies like this, The Out of Towners and others don't exist to see their characters cope, but rather beaten down and humiliated. I guess I'm just not the audience for that kind of comedy.

It scores in the casting department, with Robert Downey Jr. continuing his amazing and very welcomed renaissance as Peter Highman, a respected businessman with a child on the way on the west coast, and Zach Galifianakis as Ethan Tremblay, a goof just trying to get his father's ashes spread.

Their chance meeting begins Peter's undoing. Ethan gets him thrown of his plane and stranded without money, credit cards or I.D., leaving him no choice but to take Ethan's invitation to ride with him in his rental car. Time is of the essence, but it doesn't stop Ethan from screwing up every chance he gets, including an ill-advised side trip to buy more pot for himself and even eventually accidentally trying to cross the Mexican border with it. No one is really this inept, are they?

Peter suffers crashes, injuries, and even crises of conscience as he's torn between breaking free of this walking accident and the strange bond he's beginning to feel for him. It's hard to fathom...he goes through enough indignities at the hands of Ethan that some people would consider walking away even if was their spouse.

There are some laughs to be had, particularly from scene-stealer Juliette Lewis as the pot dealer, and when Peter has to deal with her unruly kids during the transaction. That was a score. But then the film gets briefly into another genre I've always despised: the stoner movie. Maybe you need to actually take drugs to appreciate that kind of sophisticated humor. I'll never know.

I think back on the comedies of Buster Keaton...in most of them, a lot of misfortune befell his stone-faced character. But that wasn't the humor. The humor was in how he managed to rise above with a quiet ingenuity and even turn the disasters back on those who brought them. Due Date is more like, ooh, he got thrown off his plane. Ooh, he got arrested. Ooh, he broke his arm. Ooh, he got shot. Yeah, the laughs just keep on coming.

There's obviously an audience for this kind of movie because Hollywood keeps making them. In fact, my wife hasn't stopped going on about how funny SHE thought it was, so she might represent the target the film was looking for.  I'm just not it. Even with an amusing stab at redemption at the end, it was too late for me. My due date for tolerance had passed.

Video ***1/2

This is a lovely anamorphic transfer from Warner Bros...no real flaws, so if it falls just shy of a perfect rating, it's only because the nature of the film didn't require too many demands on high definition. But it looks great...no complaints.

Audio ***

A few big action moments provide the dynamic range against the mostly-dialogue driven movie. In fact, so much of the dialogue is shouted at one another, that actually provides a bit of range alone. This DTS HD mix is a nice one, well-balanced with only sparing uses of the rear stage, but a solid blend of spoken words, music, and the occasional confrontation.

Features **

Not a whole lot on the menu here...you can see the complete “Two and a Half Men” scene from the movie and other addition scenes, plus brief mash-ups of the action sequences and questions from Ethan, and a gag reel. The gag reel IS pretty funny.  Apart from that, you also get a DVD and a digital copy disc to go with the Blu-ray.

Summary:

Robert Downey Jr. is always a pleasure to watch, and Zach Galifianakis is proving to be a considerable comic screen talent. They work well together, but sadly are only given situations to grate on the nerves and wear down the patience.

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