Due DateMovie mashups rarely, if ever work. Fact. Hollywood’s attempts to make quick buck in the aftermath of a successful and somewhat original premise are ruthless, satisfying only audiences willing to be entertained by cheap plots and the lowest common denominator of humour. Take Todd Phillips’ 2010 attempt at melding elements of 80s hit “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”  with his very own dumb, slapstick hit “The Hangover”, which lacks both the comedic finesse and acting brilliance of the former as well as most of the latter’s laugh-out-loud stoner moments that made it so popular with moviegoers.

Robert Downey Jr. stars as a man who must rush home to his wife (Michelle Monaghan) who is about to give birth. Through a bizarre turn in events he is forced to abandon his flight plans and instead hitch a ride with wannabe-actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) and thus trek across America. Flaring tempers and general disaster is preprogrammed along with the familiar change of heart in the main character who must realise that his new found, dumb companion does in fact have a heart. It quickly becomes apparent that neither Phillips nor his screenwriters (all five of them) have been able to maintain the crazy ride that was “The Hangover”. Some laughs will be genuine but most of the dark humour added for extra spice falls flat. The normally outstanding Downey Jr. has very little material to play with here, his Peter Highman has only his bad temper. The transformation, when it does come is largely unexplained and not even close to credible. Galifianakis on the other hand is clearly just on autopilot, playing the same twisted jokes, only this time accompanied by a dog rather than a baby. Michelle Monaghan’s part and cameos by Jamie Foxx and rapper RZA are downright pointless – at least Mike Tyson landed some punches.

Some of the main duo’s offbeat lines are great but considering the whole, it must be said that some people have a strange sense of humour: Is punching a child, or mocking a war-vet in a wheelchair funny? With elements such as these and a masturbating bulldog, the film tries to go all-out, either ignoring or not realising how incongruous and inappropriate it is. Even if you approach it with the lightest of mindsets, things like the above are hard to ignore, let alone find funny. When we’re then asked to give real emotion for these characters at the Grand Canyon, we realise we basically just don’t give a toss about them.

Due Date OSTReturning with director Todd Phillips is composer Christophe Beck who has earned most of his pedigree from pictures just like this. He’s the man who will provide anonymous scores for comedy flicks and rom-coms, most of them unreleased. This time round, three score tracks adorn the commercial album otherwise filled with songs by the like of Wolfmother, Ice Cube and (the only one of note) Rod Stewart performing Amazing Grace. The score is a mixture of electric guitars and rock rhythms, heard mainly  in “Glaucoma” and “Ethan’s Theme”. In between there’s a rather more beautiful cue for solo piano but this is too little and much too late, marking this as one of the lower points of a busy year for the composer. The album is available only for digital download or through Amazon’s CD-R on-demand service.

“Due Date” tries a lot of things but manages to come up short for every single one of them. In terms of comedy and entertainment it might do to fill a rainy afternoon but you’ll have forgotten it by the next day – without a hangover.



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