Due Date

November 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan
Directed by: Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”)
Written by: Alan R. Cohen (TV’s “King of the Hill”), Alan Freedland (TV’s “King of the Hill”), Adam Sztykiel (“Made of Honor”), Todd Phillips (“Old School”)

We’ll give overrated director Todd Phillips (“The Hangover,” “School for Scoundrels”) the benefit of the doubt and say his new comedy “Due Date” is a homage to 1987’s John Hughes classic “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and not just a raunchy rip-off. With that said, “Due Date” isn’t a lot of other things as well, primarily funny.

Yes, there are amusing moments in “Due Date.” It would be impossible to go through an entire feature film without laughing at something “Hangover” scene-stealer Zach Galifianakis does or without enjoying the darker comic situations conveyed through yet another of Robert Downey Jr.’s cynical characters.

But overall, the odd pairing of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis is far from enough. “Due Date” is nothing more than a barrel-full of cheap and obvious jokes that will hit with mainstream audiences who think the bearded one can do no wrong.

In “Due Date,” Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) is forced to travel cross country with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) when the two are somehow put on the no-fly list after a ridiculous scenario at the airport with Homeland Security.

Although he is worried he won’t make it from Atlanta to L.A. to witness the birth of his first child, high-strung Peter takes his chances with Ethan, a slouchy guy with “90 friends on Facebook…12 of them are pending” and a dream to star on a sitcom as beloved as “Two and a Half Men.”

What follows is a dim-witted road trip fastened together by scenes of Galifianakis acting as quirky as he can without the slightest bit of common sense. This might work in a movie like “Dumb and Dumber,” but not in a comedy that wants to be both stupid and sincere all in the same breath.

Downey Jr. and Galifianakis have some chemistry that keeps “Due Date” from ending up a lost cause, but without a script that really drives the story forward all that’ s left are gags featuring masturbating mammals and a joke where Galifianakis’ character mistakes a sign that says “Mexico” with “Texaco.” Could the screenwriter really not get any clever than that?

Made of Honor

May 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Sydney Pollack
Directed by: Paul Weiland (“City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold”)
Written by: Adam Sztykiel (debut), Deborah Kaplan (“Josie and the Pussycats”), Harry Elfont (“Surviving Christmas”)

If anyone knows how to milk their status as a romantic lead it’s actor Patrick Dempsey. From his “McDreamy” reputation on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” to his all-around good-guy persona in films like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Enchanted,” Dempsey is a far cry away from the nerdy lead he took in 1987’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

That film, at least, could be considered a sweet romantic comedy. In his new rom com, “Made of Honor,” the script makes about as much sense as the homonym in its title, which isn’t much.

Riddled with countless clichés (“You’re the perfect man, but not the perfect man for me.” Really? Is that all it takes to write a screenplay?) and some pointless and annoying dialogue, “Made of Honor” tells the story of Tom (Dempsey), a billionaire inventor who realizes he is in love with his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) just before she introduces him to her new fiancée.

When Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor for her wedding, Tom jumps at the chance, not because he is interested in picking out floral arrangements with her, but because he thinks he has a better chance of sabotaging the engagement by being closer to the future bride.

A hapless, hopeless romantic comedy, there is no real sense of friendship between Tom and Hannah right from the start. The trio of writers who offer this dud want us to believe that such a great, life-long friendship develops because they are able to do things like pick off each other’s food and guess what the other will order from the bakery. The premise and characterizations are so careless and irritating it’s a wonder how the director of Bill Cosby’s “Leonard 6” (considered by many as one of the worst movies ever made) got financing for something so dim-witted and poorly written.

If you want a great romantic comedy, flip the sexes around and revisit “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Even Cameron Diaz’s sometimes earsplitting role in that isn’t as grating as Dempsey’s is in this.