Odd pair delivers the laughs

Ac­tors strike enough sparks to make this fraught road trip a po­tent com­mer­cial com­edy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD MOVIES -

LOS AN­GE­LES: As if in a han­gover from The Han­gover, Due Date strives to snatch hi­lar­ity from the jaws of des­per­a­tion, with spo­radic, stum­bling suc­cess.

Todd Phillips’s fol­low-up to the most suc­cess­ful R-rated com­edy of all time serves up its share of laughs while not ac­tu­ally pro­vid­ing a ter­ri­bly en­joy­able time be­cause of a queasy un­der­cur­rent that never goes away.

The pair­ing of livewire Robert Downey jr with the slow-burn­ing Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis strikes enough wild sparks to make this un­en­dear­ing road trip a po­tent, if not sen­sa­tional, com­mer­cial com­edy.

The film’s comic linch­pin also is its great­est li­a­bil­ity. Gal­i­fi­anakis’s clue­less loser Ethan Trem­blay rep­re­sents a one-man plague car­rier of Mur­phy’s Law. Dis­as­ter ac­com­pa­nies this un­couth wannabe ac­tor ev­ery­where.

You’d think Downey’s har­ried and pre­oc­cu­pied ar­chi­tect Peter High­man, whose wife is about to give birth in LA, would be smart enough to recog­nise this af­ter a cou­ple of dis­rup­tive col­li­sions with him at the At­lanta air­port.

So, there’s a de­gree to which one ir­re­vo­ca­bly tur ns against Downey’s char­ac­ter when he fails to heed the alarm bells warn­ing him that he should take a taxi all the way back to LA rather than ride with Ethan once the lat­ter has con­trived to land him on the no-fly list.

Due Date is pat­terned as a sortof Planes, Trains & Au­to­mo­biles with­out the rail­way, so the viewer, like the dis­com­fited Peter, who’s sud­denly lost his lug­gage, ID and credit cards, must face the prospect of spend­ing a pro­tracted pe­riod with this dumpy bearded guy who sports a perm and car­ries with him a bull­dog and the ashes of his fa­ther.

It’s Os­car and Felix stuck in a car to­gether for three days, ex­cept for the fact that the ir­ri­ta­tion is not mu­tual but mon­u­men­tally one-sided; al­most noth­ing phases Ethan, es­pe­cially af­ter he has stocked up on smok­able “glau­coma med­i­ca­tion’’ cour­tesy of a trashy home grower (Juli­ette Lewis).

Ethan cuts a swath of catas­tro­phe along In­ter­state 20. Among his achieve­ments are – af­ter a pit­stop visit with Peter’s old pal (Jamie Foxx) – cre­at­ing grave doubt that Peter is the fa­ther of his wife’s about-to-be-born child, tak­ing a turn-off that leads them over the border into Ciudad Juarez and get­ting Peter high, along with the dog, when he lights up with all the car win­dows shut.

The laughs come in abrupt bursts, but they’re not con­stant, con­vul­sive or con­ta­gious. Due Date doesn’t be­gin to ri­val Han­gover for in­ven­tive­ness or hi­lar­ity. But the sharp comic in­stincts and con­trast­ing styles of the stars keep the film alive de­spite the set-up’s ag­gra­va­tions and fa­mil­iar­ity.

Be­cause Peter for a long time re­fuses to share any per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, Downey is strait­jack­eted from re­veal­ing much about his char­ac­ter. But the ev­er­re­source­ful ac­tor comes up with a hun­dred ways to ex­press ex­as­per­a­tion, frus­tra­tion and pee­vish­ness.

As for Gal­i­fi­anakis, for a spell it ap­pears he might not go any fur­ther than cre­at­ing a comic shell of de­fi­ant hap­less­ness. For­tu­nately, Phillips and his co-writ­ers don’t sen­ti­men­talise Ethan’s in­nu­mer­able de­fi­cien­cies as they eke out just enough sym­pa­thy for the guy to make him un­der­stand­able, and Gal­i­fi­anakis emerges as a wor­thy Hardy to Downey’s Lau­rel.

The wrap-up of his story is de­light­ful. – Reuters

EMER­GENCY: Robert Downey jr as Peter High­man and Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis as Ethan Trem­blay in

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.