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I'm not a big fan of some of the younger generation of comedy actors in Hollywood, for instance, I never have understood the appeal of Adam Sandler. For me, the man is just not funny. But millions of Americans disagree with me about Adam Sandler, hence his rise in popularity over the past decade.

But there is a young fellow who I think is going to have an even bigger career than Adam Sandler, and that is Zach Galifianakis.

The last Galifianakis film I saw was last night, and it was Due Date.  

Meet me below the fold for the review...

I'm partial to comedies, in general, but I gave this film a pass at the walk-in Theater, due to it's glaring similarities to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a classic 'buddies cross-country misadventure-comedy, staring Steve Martin & John Candy, from 1987.

Of course, I'm just like everyone else, and I based my decision on the trailers for Due Date, which it turns out, was a terrible mistake.

How many times will I do this before I learn better? Who knows...

'Cause it's all we have to go on - but I wish Hollywood would hire some more "regular movie goer types" to help them choose clips for trailers, because the professional trailer creators are making too, too many mistakes on trailers, so far as I'm concerned. Why they want to mislead people, and thus piss them off after they go or pass on going to certain films based on what's in the trailer... well, it's beyond my paygrade to figure out.

On to the movie at hand:

Due Date, co-starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis.

IMDB.com Movie Stats:

Length: 95 minutes (but it seems much, much longer)
Stars: IMDB.com viewers give it 6.8 out of 10 Stars (29,988 votes)
Reviews: 161 individual reviews
Distributed by: WarnerBrothers
Original Release Date: 5 November 2010

Since this movie is over four months from theater release, and is no longer available outside of DVDs, I'll include a plot summary:

Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is on a business trip to Atlanta, GA. He must get to LA in five days to be at the birth of his firstborn. He is about to fly home from Atlanta when he has the bad luck to meet Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), an aspiring actor, on the plane - and soon thereafter is disembarked by a Federal Marshall, after getting shot by said Marshall with a rubber bullet...

According to the airline, after he is released from Airport/Homeland Security, his luggage and wallet have been sent to LA without him - AND he has been put on the "no-fly" list.

Desperate to get home, Peter (without his wallet and money and ID), is forced to accept an offer by Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) to hitch a ride with him cross-country in the car he has just rented.

Peter is about to go on the most terrifying and agonizing journey of his life - and there is some question as to whether or not he'll live to see L.A. or the birth of his child.  

Now, it appears to be a clear-cut rip-off of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Wherein two guys lose the ability to reach Chicago by plane, and end up traveling together by ground transport. One is a regular family guy, looking to get home to his family and the other is an obnoxious, annoying guy who somehow becomes stuck to the regular family guy, like glue.

OK. So the film makers deny that it is a remake or update of PTAA, but the similarities in the plot are legion.

And, keep in mind that PTAA was a real successful film at it's original release (I remember how popular it was, and went to see it at a local Regal Cinema theatre), and grossed just under $50 Million. Not bad for a comedy buddy-movie in 1987.

But PTAA was a movie made for it's audience, references and slang are dated, and younger people (under 25) are likely to find PTAA cheesy and not particularly funny.

Due Date, on the other hand, is made for today's audience. References are fresh, and sometimes quite disguised as off-the-cuff dialogue.

For instance, Robert Downey's (RDJ) character is named Peter Highman, and in one scene, makes a slightly big deal out of the fact that he has never used drugs, whilst in real life RDJ has had numerous run-ins with law enforcement over events wherein he was found to be using illegal substances. An in-joke, if you will.

Zach Galifianakis' character Ethan Tremblay, is a Medical Marijuana user who has just attended his father's funeral. He is carrying his father's cremains in a coffee can. Imagine, if you will, the comedic opportunities which might arise from this premise...

There is a soupçon of the walking-a-fine-line-between-funny and droll in the film... but the eminent timing of both actors keeps it on the funny side, even when the dialogue tends to bring the cheesy out in the film.

There are a number of plot twists which surpised me - which is suprising in a film, nowadays - or possibly it's just that I'm getting old enough to remember enough plots to just see the holes in them now, or recognize the plot of some other film I've seen sometime back in the Mesozoic Era, which this new release is simply a re-enactment of.

RDJ seems to be hitting his stride as a leading man, overcoming his 30s and their attendant problems with drugs and cars leading to a number of arrests and some time spent in jail.

Between 1996 and 2001, Downey was frequently arrested on drug-related charges and went through several drug treatment programs, but had difficulty staying clean.  

However, in the years following, his career has hit full-stride, with roles in movies like:
Gothika
Good Night, and Good Luck
Charlie Bartlett
A Scanner Darkly
Iron Man
Tropic Thunder
Sherlock Holmes

RDJ gives a full-throated performance, matching the straightman delivery of some of the wackiest dialogue in movie history by Zach Galifianakis (ZG) with panache and believable emotion.

While I've enjoyed past performances of ZG (What Happens in Vegas and The Hangover) - previously, he played an inept, boorish fool. Here, he brings another level of acting entirely, giving his character, Ethan Tremblay/Ethan Chase, depth and dimension, which his previous roles lacked.

You'll laugh, and in at least one scene, you'll be tempted to cry a tear (although you probably won't).

This is one buddy-movie you don't want to miss.

Score: 9 out of 10 - Don't Miss it second time around

Rent it or watch it online if you have one of the Movie channels.

Save it for a gray winter day (hey, there are lot of them around, right now), when you need a laugh or even a hearty guffaw.

You'll be glad you did.

Originally posted to Seriously Seeking Cinema on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

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