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Dropout UK @ Due Date Private Screening, Odeon West End

Todd Phillip Does It Again!

On Thursday evening, London’s Odeon cinema hosted a private media screening of Todd Phillips’s newest film, ‘Due Date’. The project had been confirmed prior to the release (and of course success) of ‘The Hangover’, yet it maintains much of that film’s fundamental characteristics.

Phillips, the director of both movies, reunites here with Zach Galifianakis (Ethan Tremblay), who forms an unlikely friendship (although, given the consistency with which this premise is reeled out in Hollywood features, we use the term ‘unlikely’ loosely) with Robert Downey Jr.’s suave Los Angeles Architect (Peter Highman). Left stationed at home is Highman’s pregnant wife (Michelle Mongahan), whom he intends to return to once his business obligations have been fulfilled. Naturally, things go awry – Highman and Tremblay’s bags are switched at the airport, leading to a problematic scenario which sees them kicked off the flight and unable to board the next one, thus enabling this road movie/buddy comedy to unfold.

Initially, Ethan is impossible and unbearable; his image recalls an 80s diva, and his awkward social transgressions have us laughing at his clumsy handling of this intimate new relationship, but also losing patience. However, Downey Jr.’s privileged Californian is particularly obnoxious in response to this buffoon, and future sympathy for the portly wannabe actor is heavily implied.

‘The Hangover’ felt like a road movie in its structuring of successive bombastic scenarios and obstacles, and so ‘Due Date’ takes the relentless passage of set-pieces literally onto American highways, where the return of Peter to his heavily pregnant spouse is elongated beyond credulity.

Among the more memorable hindrances is the pair’s intoxicated conflict with Mexican border police, and an elaborate car crash caused by Ethan’s narcolepsy.

Ethan is at the heart of the film’s comedy, his tendency to regress (especially now, in the aftermath of his beloved father’s funeral) creating humorous passages, but also the opportunity for Phillips to provide his protagonist tenderness. His earnestness is both annoying and charming, as he doggedly inquires after Peter and his life. Naturally, Ethan’s stunted maturity is a trait that alludes to Peter’s imminent fatherhood, and a means of gauging his parental readiness.

As with many pictures of this kind, a middle ground is required, and ultimately arrived upon. Peter is uptight and occasionally pompous due to the successes and achievements of his life (his wife is beautiful and pregnant, he has ‘a great hair line and a strong jaw’, his best friend is Jamie Foxx as an NFL professional), and Ethan is uncouth, crude and emotionally unstable. Their friendship allows them to confront these issues.

The film can essentially be judged according to the jokes that are gleaned along the way, and the success rate is high. Also, given the neat cameos of RZA and Juliette Lewis, the film is worth checking out.

Due date is out at all UK cinemas on Friday 5th November 2010.

Check out the trailer below

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