Until 2009, Todd Phillips was ambling through his career as a journeyman comedy director, churning out dross like Road Trip and the some slightly more memorable efforts like 2003’s Old School. Then, The Hangover arrived and he was launched into the Hollywood stratosphere...
We're willing to bet this will be one of the biggest comedies of the year
The film exploded around the world, breaking box office records everywhere it went. After years of interchangeable Apatow movies and, before that, infantile teen comedies, The Hangover was a perfectly cast, expertly executed and genuinely hilarious revelation. It combined properly grown up humour without relying on scatological asides with a series of ridiculously over the top encounters as four men tried to find out what happened on their fateful stag trip to Las Vegas. A sequel is in the works for a 2011 release, but before that we've got Phillips' latest offering – Due Date.
In the film, expectant father Peter Highman (Downey Jr.) is stranded and desperate to make his way across the country to be there at the birth of his first child. Reluctantly, he teams up with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis - the stand out from The Hangover) to hitch a ride, and what follows is the road trip from hell as the two characters clash.
Yes, there's one uptight white guy and an odd and slightly portly white guy, vehicular danger features quite a bit and you know it’s all likely leading to a sentimental conclusion so comparisons to 1987’s Planes, Trains & Automobiles are inevitable. But the dynamic here is quite different and much more antagonistic, allowing Downey Jr. to show a more gritty side to his sense of humour than the insipid Iron Man films allow.
Rather than the ensemble of The Hangover, Due Date will live or die on the interplay between its two leads and honestly we can't think of better casting then Downey Jr. and Galifianakis. RDJ has staged a tremendous come back in recent years, recreating himself as an almost preternaturally charming quip heavy hero. And Galifianakis, an unknown outside the world of stand up when he took on the role of Alan in The Hangover, has virtually trademarked his unique creepy/hilarious characterisation. As an actor, he would want to branch out soon to avoid stagnation but in this company it’s sure to be a treat.
Rounding out the cast are the forever watchable Danny McBride, the underrated Michelle Monaghan, Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx - who has yet to really put his comedic talents to the test. After the success of The Hangover, all eyes will be on Phillips’ follow up but with the talent in place in front of and behind the camera, we're willing to bet this will be one of the biggest comedies of the year.