Movie Review: Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]
Director: Todd Phillips
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Due Date is a haphazard road comedy starring two unlikeable characters, a film that could have been far greater than its outcome. Robert Downey Jr. is Peter Highman, a high strung businessman who is trying to make it from Atlanta to Los Angeles in order to be there for the birth of his first child. At the Atlanta airport, he runs into Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), an annoying aspiring actor who inadvertantly causes a scene and causes both men to be put on the no-fly list. The moment that allows this to happen is not as funny as you would expect. With his bags (and wallet) still on the plane, Peter has no way to rent a car and drive to LA so he begrudgingly rides along with Ethan. Yes, this is a road trip movie.

I had fairly high expectations for this film, especially considering director Todd Phillips had a major comedy hit immediately before this in the form of The Hangover. I like Downey and Galifianakis, and the trailer made this look pretty funny. While Due Date has a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, it tends to rely too heavily on its weak script and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny scenes. It doesn’t help that both of the main characters are just so unlikeable. Zach G. is a very funny guy, but he isn’t given anything to work with here. His character, Ethan, is an annoying little twat who has nary a likeable trait. Downey’s character isn’t much better due to his holier-than-thou asshole tendencies, although he does provide the “best” moment in the movie when he knocks out a child.

Due Date [2010]

A big problem is that the obligatory “gross out” scenes are stupid and unnecessary. Who thought including a random segment with a masturbating dog would be funny? Apparently the dog learned this from Ethan, who has to masturbate at night in order for him to be able to fall asleep. WTF? I don’t get how someone thought this was a good idea.

What helps keep the movie watchable is its assortment of random cameos. RZA, Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx all have bit roles in the movie, and they do their best to keep things fresh at crucial times in the movie.

It’s unfortunate that such a talented cast was given a poor script to work with. This is a fairly simple concept — two guys with opposite personalities taking a cross country road trip — and it is a premise that could easily provide hilarious obstacles along the way. Yet it is hard to get behind the unlikeable main characters that Due Date throws at us. Still, this isn’t a terrible movie, or even a bad one. It’s just that it could have been so much more.

6/10

The Switch [2010]

The Switch [2010]

The Switch [2010]
Directors: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Language: English
Country: USA

A romantic comedy with a ‘spermy’ twist.

The Switch stars Jennifer Aniston, who is apparently on a mission to tackle every rom-com role made for 40-year-old single women. This time around her character, Kassie, has decided she wants a baby and is going to go the insemination route instead of opting for more conventional circumstances. Her best friend, Wally (Jason Bateman), is disappointed by this but attends her “insemination party” anyway. At the celebration, Wally proceeds to get shitfaced and accidentally dumps the donor’s (Patrick Wilson) sperm (conveniently left in a cup) down the bathroom sink. In a fit of boozy negligence, Wally decides to fill the cup back up with his own, ahem, specimens.

Flash forward seven years later. Kassie, now back in NYC after leaving for a job, meets up with Wally and introduces him to her child, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). A series of uncanny resemblances leads Wally to remember that fateful night (he was near a “blackout” stage when it happened), and then hilarity is supposed to ensue.

As with so many other romantic comedies, The Switch has its shortcomings. There are some ridiculous plot developments (an insemination party, really?), occasional cookie-cutter dialogue and the usual issues with predictability, but this movie rises above most in its genre due to one person: Jason Bateman. Seriously, his performance as the lonely, subdued Wally is entirely what makes this film watchable. This is a man who has been in love with his best friend for so many years, yet has never been able to take those feelings to the next level. I usually could care less about these types of movies, but I couldn’t help but root for the guy to follow his dream, even considering the bizarre circumstances that got him into this situation. This is a testament to Bateman’s performance (certainly not the script).

Other than Bateman (and the kid, who is actually pretty funny), the general cast is mediocre at best. Aniston sleepwalks through her performance, not really adding anything new to her repertoire. Patrick Wilson is solid, albeit unspectacular, as Kassie’s other love interest. Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis both have small roles, and neither one seemed thrilled to be doing their parts.

Without Jason Bateman, The Switch would have likely fallen into the same rut that so many other romantic comedies belong to. The movie has its funny moments and it isn’t boring — that’s about all you can ask for from something like this. If your girlfriend is begging to watch something in the genre, opt for The Switch instead of The Backup Plan. You will be glad you did.

6/10