Zach Galifianakis became a mainstream sensation after his breakthrough performance in The Hangover, but that’s no reason for him to get stuck playing a bunch of one-note weirdos. He actually has plenty of range as an actor and comedian, and has shown that in less high-profile movies for years. But Hangover director Todd Phillips puts Galifianakis right back in the weirdo box for Due Date, a limp comedy that attempts to take the go-for-broke tone of The Hangover and apply it to a combination of the road-trip and mismatched-buddy comedy subgenres. The result has a handful of laughs but is mostly repetitive and lazy, with neither Galifianakis nor co-star Robert Downey Jr. at anywhere near their comedic best.
They play a pair of travelers who, through a series of misunderstandings, end up stuck on the road together from Atlanta to Los Angeles, where the wife of Downey’s architect, Peter, is about to give birth to their first child. Peter is a humorless, single-minded jerk, which makes it harder to sympathize with his frustrations when Galifianakis’ aspiring actor Ethan does something stupid and/or insensitive (pretty much all the time). Both of these guys are unpleasant to spend time with, and although Galifianakis eventually gets to show a little of Ethan’s vulnerability, neither character really progresses beyond the basic traits established in the opening moments. Of course they eventually bond and become friends, but that obligatory development feels entirely forced and unmotivated.
The more absurd moments are sometimes amusing, but the plot is haphazard and meaningless, and it feels like it drags on far beyond its 100 minutes. The Hangover had a sense of fun and adventure even when its characters were meandering aimlessly; Due Date is just a lame, straightforward trip from one point to another.