A post-9/11 reproductive countdown road movie, Due Date rummages for laughs by pairing two eccentric comic actors together for a long cross-country drive, who should probably never be in the same room together for even a short time. Reluctantly paired for the duration is Robert Downey Jr. as a neurotic dad to be at any moment, and Zach Galifianakis as his eager for companionship Chaplinesque worst nightmare.
And somewhat as a scary premonition in the movie, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) relates to his very pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) in California over the phone, hundreds of miles away, a bad dream in which a bear came along and wolfed down the umbilical cord. Enter Galifianakis by way of quite incidentally relevant introduction as Ethan Tremblay. And one of the few and far between funniest pit stops on this monotonous road trip even before it’s begun, when the not as dumb as he seems Tremblay switches luggage with Highman at the Atlanta airport to elude detection of his stash of weed. Evoking Downey’s indignant reply, I’ve never done drugs in my life.
And when they’re tossed out of the airport after ending up on the no-fly list for terrorist small talk, Highman resigns himself to hitching a rental car ride with Tremblay. Who happens to have in tow a pet pooch, and his recently deceased father’s cremated remains stuffed on the cheap in a coffee can. And the rest of the slimly plotted travel itinerary for the mismatched mates is, let’s just say, mostly duller than a jaunt down the LA freeway in rush hour. Though Jamie Foxx turning up during a detour along the way, recharges the sagging laughs with some briefly replenishing comedic energy.
One running theme kicking in from time to time, is Tremblay’s ludicrous aspiration to take Hollywood by storm, and arrive there with head shots of himself as, among others, a Malcolm X look-alike. To which Highman objects emphatically, ‘Hollywood is not paved with gold, it’s paved with the carcasses of imbeciles like you.’ Reality check, please.