Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Due Date (2010) – Review

Due Date is at times quite funny, if not hysterical, but plays more like an every escalating series of comedy bits, many of which do not work well enough. The film also overly relies on its leads to sell the comedy, but both play their roles more as caricatures than real people, thus there is an emotional disconnect between the audience and the characters. But, given that the purpose of the film is really to just be funny and entertaining with seemingly no real attempt to engage on any higher level, the film does accomplish its goal – it is funny and entertaining, just not as gratifying a film as other comedies that do have characters that the audience can connect with. Another issue (and this probably just because I have seen too many movies) is that the film is a bit tired – how many other films are just the same as this (not to mention that it is practically a remake of John Hughes’s classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Robert Downey Jr. playing Steve Martin’s character and Zack Galifianakis playing John Candy’s). Director Todd Phillips consistently makes these types of films, pushing the limit of crazy stuff that can happen to people, but with each new film it seems to get more and more unrealistic. And maybe that is the problem. With The Hangover, Phillips had insane things happening, but it worked due to the myth of Vegas. Here, the extreme happenings just seem crazy for the sake of being crazy, taking some of the humor out of the piece. The jokes that work the best are the more human, character driven elements. Many of the ancillary characters also serve no real purpose other than to set up a joke (Jamie Foxx’s character is who I am mostly thinking of). Thus, the character who is presented to be an important part of the story and meaningful to another character is really just an insert for a payoff later, again leading to the film being discounted in terms of true emotional connection. The film is joke driven almost completely, with limited character depth and growth. The film working for many ends up solely being predicated on each audience member’s ability to find Galifianakis and Downey Jr. funny, since there is not much else there. Though, while Due Date has a lot of narrative issues, it is still an amusing and entertaining film.

Technical achievements: Phillips does not do a good enough job as a director in making the characters real and dynamic, which is the primary reason for the film not working as well. Galifianakis and Downey Jr. are both very good actors, but pushing for both performances to be exaggerated for comedic effect does not work when they are the main characters and all the audience has to connect to. Like The Hangover, Phillips hopes that the craziness and jokes will carry the audience through the story without characters to connect with (which can work in certain films), but there is too much character drama with underdeveloped characters and plot and situations that seems crazy just to be crazy and not organic. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher does good work on the film; his photography is aesthetically the best part of the film. Composer Christophe Beck has lots of experience scoring comedies. His music here matches the tone, but does not stand out. Bill Brzeski’s production design is fairly sparse, but he did not have much to work with either. The supporting cast is ok – Foxx’s character is underused and ends up being reduced to skin color, Juliette Lewis is fine (I think she was in this because of her connection to director Phillips more than because of the role), Danny McBride is funny (when is he not) but like Foxx reduced to a physical attribute to joke about, RZA is maybe the standout bit player and is pretty funny, and Michelle Monaghan (who is awesome and underrated) is completely underused for her talent. Galifiankis is a good actor and really funny in a lot of stuff, but here he is just too much. Downey Jr. is fairly one note the whole film (aggravated).

Due Date is what it is supposed to be, funny, entertaining and crazy, but just not a good film. 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment