BY Special to South Florida Times
Those of you born before 1985 may remember a 1991 movie called Pure Luck.
It starred Martin Short and Danny Glover as two men looking for the daughter of a wealthy man named Valerie Highsmith.
Valerie is very unlucky but it is the ones around her who suffer. The same goes for Short’s character, Eugene Proctor.
Fast forward to 2010 and there is a similar film out in theaters, called Due Date, made by the same people who brought us last year’s The Hangover.
Peter Highman, played by Robert Downey Jr., boards a plane from Atlanta to Los Angeles, trying to make it to his wife, who is due to give birth at the end of the week. Things go awry the moment he gets to the airport and meets Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianikis). Ethan is much like Short’s character in Pure Luck in that you just know he’s completely clueless and everyone around him suffers.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Due Date, is full of surprises. Just to give you an idea of what happens in the film, I will tell you a few plot points from the script written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel and also Phillips: a wheelchair-bound veteran beating someone up, a jack-knifed rental car, a stolen mobile unit from the Mexican Federales, a dog spit on, daddy’s ashes coffee sipping – and a whole lot of in-between.
Cohen and company’s script is not for everyone. There are things in this film that might offend certain groups of people. At the same time, in the vein of The Hangover, it’s supposed to make audiences laugh, while being offensive — although, I have to say, The Hangover was less offensive.
But I will give the writers props for creating characters who stay true to form.
Downey’s Peter is so wound-up that I wondered how he got his wife, Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) to marry him, in the first place. He’s really mean. Thankfully, Ethan is there so Peter can get some father training before the baby comes.
Galifianikis’ Ethan is one of those people who have been sheltered all of their lives and don’t realize that the world can be a harsh place. The best part about him is just when you think you’ve got him pegged he does something that you weren’t expecting.
Another great aspect of the plot is the foreshadowing of Ethan’s existence in the first scene. Peter tells his wife about a dream he had in which a grizzly bear helps her deliver her baby and chews the umbilical cord for her because Peter can’t get to her.
It’s not often audiences get a good foreshadow in a film.
Jamie Foxx makes an appearance as Darryl, Peter’s college friend who lives in a
gorgeous mansion. There is speculation that Darryl and Sarah might be having an affair behind Peter’s back, but, I’m guessing that turns out to be a lie; the filmmakers didn’t make it clear.
Likewise, Wu-Tang Clan rapper Rza makes a cameo as an airport security guard who catches Peter with a marijuana pipe. When Peter asks if he looks like someone who would smoke weed, the look on Rza’s security guard’s face is priceless. It’s all the ammunition he needs to imply that Peter is a racist.
Even though, he’s not.
Just like Pure Luck and The Hangover, Due Date is a buddy film that’s hilariously written, with a solid and original script. I really like that in a film. At the heart of
Due Date are two childish men in need of some life lessons. Peter teaches Ethan to be an adult; so to speak. Ethan teaches Peter to not be so wound up and violent. The road they travel is quite rough, especially when one shoots the other in the groin. But, in the end, they are changed for the better and become better men – always a welcome plot point in a buddy film.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com.