A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this odd-couple roadtrip comedy from the director of The Hangover -- which stars Hangover break-out Zach Galifianakis -- isn't as raunchy as its predecessor but comes from the same irreverent, test-the-boundaries school of humor. Expect plenty of swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), a somewhat explicit masturbation gag (nothing is shown, but sounds are audible), and a fair helping of mean-spirited jokes. One character uses marijuana (ostensibly to treat his glaucoma), once while driving. In the end, the salty humor comes with a helping of heart, but this is still most age-appropriate for older teens and up.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Wound as tight as a sharp-edged top, Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) has a big deadline to make: His wife (Michelle Monaghan) is scheduled for a C-section soon. But his scheduled flight home to Los Angeles out of Atlanta, where he's been sent on business, has been scuttled, leaving him and the kooky passenger that he clashed with -- Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) -- on the no-fly list. With his wallet and ID nowhere to be found and nothing but a BlackBerry to get him cross-country, Peter has no choice but to accept an offer of a ride from Ethan, who's toting around his recently deceased father's ashes in a coffee can. The pair take to the road, with very mixed -- and sometimes combustible -- results.
Is it any good?
Simultaneously as imperfect and as maddeningly funny as director Todd Phillips' previous comedy, The Hangover, DUE DATE is a coup. That is, if you can ignore the fact that the basic premise -- two polar opposites take to the road -- has been done before, and some would say better. (Planes, Trains and Automobiles, anyone?) While it's true that the movie is uneven -- some jokes play better than others (the ones that have Ethan needing to be reminded to go to the bathroom are grating) -- and exhibits a mean streak (Peter borders on scary), this road-trip comedy benefits from two elements: Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr.
Galifianakis plays Ethan like a made-to-order eccentric of a type found in many ensemble comedies, complete with weirdnesses that feel random and excessive. But the actor is skilled enough to make Ethan sympathetic, even likable. That's doubly true for Downey. Despite playing a character who borders on dangerously enraged, his performance is so grounded in the now, in what's real, that we're willing to ride along on this outrageous adventure. Combined, the two make a disarmingly appealing pair.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's boundary-pushing humor involving sex, drugs, etc. Is the film condoning or glorifying this kind of behavior?
Why do you think opposites-attract storylines are so popular, especially in roadtrip comedies? How does this film compare to others in the genre?
What do Peter and Ethan learn from each other? Does the film ultimately have a positive message?
- In theaters: November 5, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: February 22, 2011
- Cast: Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis
- Director: Todd Phillips
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, drug use and sexual content
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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