Director Todd Phillips’s “The Hangover” was a hilarious bachelor party romp, so there’s great anticipation about this follow-up R-rated comedy which continues to riff on the humorous axiom known as Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will.
This time, the road trip plot revolves around uptight Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) who – after an unfortunate encounter with a federal marshal on a plane – is placed on the no-fly list, just days before his pregnant wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) is due to deliver their first child. Desperate to get from the Atlanta airport to Los Angeles, he ends up sharing rental car with a boorish, immature, aspiring actor, Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifinakis), who was also kicked off the flight.
Four writers – Alan R. Cohen & Alan Freedland (“King of the Hill”), along with Adam Sztykiel and Phillips – contributed to the screenplay, which inevitably evokes memories of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” While it begins far too slowly, particularly since Peter’s wife is planning to give birth by a planned C-section so there isn’t as much urgency as there should be, the pace picks up as the odd-couple concept kicks in with full frat-boy force, including both Ethan and his French bulldog’s need to masturbate before falling asleep (even when they’re in the car with Peter), Ethan’s obligation to find just the right place to scatter his late father’s ashes, which he’s stashed in a coffee can, is “glaucoma medication” and a spaced-out detour to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Always unpredictable Robert Downey Jr. exudes just the right amount of wry, neurotic, frustrated humor in the straight-man role while Zach Galifianakis essentially plays the same kind of obnoxious, moronic misfit character he’s previously established.
And there are amusing cameos from Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis and Wu Tang Clan’s RZA.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Due Date” is a rowdy, raunchy 7. Is it as good as “The Hangover”? No. But it probably delivers the laughs you’re looking for until “The Hangover 2” debuts next year.