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Ed reviews 'Due Date'

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2 stars

Due Date is a road trip comedy starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, from the director of The Hangover. It's like Planes, Trains and Automobiles without the trains. Or the steady stream of big laughs. Or the likability.

If you've watched TV lately, you've seen a barrage of mostly insipid or vile political ads. The one standout for me is Mike Pence's brilliantly nonspecific cliché-fest known as "The Seeds of Liberty," which follows scary storm-of-change imagery with pure poetry ("This is the moment. Now is the time") as it builds to Pence's powerful declaration that "every time freedom gets an up or down vote in the heartland of America, freedom always wins." Nice to know that just-plain-folks like us are smart enough to opt for freedom, as opposed to those extremists on the east and west coasts who keep voting for jackbooted thugs to beat them senseless and take away their cable. Thanks for the reassurance, Mike, and for all the stirring Hoosiers-style music.

But I digress. Really, a lot.

What I was getting at was that if you've watched TV lately, about the only thing you've seen besides political ads are commercials for Due Date calling the film "the funniest comedy of 2010." To which I reply: This is the moment. Now is the time... to change channels.

Due Date isn't the funniest comedy of 2010. Contenders for that title include The Other Guys and Get Him to the Greek, and while both of them are entertaining, they also serve as indicators that this hasn't been a stellar year for comedy so far. Even grading on a curve, however, Due Date wouldn't be in the running. It has some good slapstick bits (although I question the creativity of writers who include not one, but twoimages of vehicle doors getting knocked off), and a number of snappy one-liners, but I was surprised at how infrequently I laughed – and the sneak preview audience didn't laugh that much more than I did.

Director Todd Phillips (who turns up briefly as the husband of Juliette Lewis' medical-marijuana dealer) pairs a wired husband and father-to-be (Downey) and an actor wannabe and walking disaster (Galifianakis) with a mean-spirited script that contrives to keep the squabbling duo together on a cross-country trip. The interplay between the characters held my attention, but the abrasiveness of both men kept me from getting involved in their quests. And on too many occasions, their antics are more annoying than amusing.

Michelle Monaghan is wasted as the mama-in-waiting. Danny McBride is effective as a clerk who loses patience with the men, while Jamie Foxx anchors the latter part of the film nicely as an old friend of Downey's character.

Due Date is handsomely shot, so if you're in the mood for a noisy, blustery, abrasive comedy that's funny in spots and is "nicely filmed," have at it.

Related Film

Due Date

Official Site: duedatemovie.warnerbros.com

Director: Todd Phillips

Producer: Todd Phillips, Dan Goldberg, Thomas Tull, Susan Downey and Scott Budnick

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, RZA and Matt Walsh

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