Sunday 19 November 2017

Seriously funny road movie gets them to the birth on time

film reviews

Padraig McKiernan and Hilary A White

Due Date

Cert 15A

DUE Date is a comedy that relies on car crashes for a significant amount of its comic content. The good news for chuckle fans is that it doesn't follow that this road movie -- starring Robert Downey Jr and The Hangover's Zack Galifianakis -- can be described as a car-crash comedy.

Drawing heavily on the template established by Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, this Todd Phillips-directed (also from The Hangover) caper compensates for what it lacks in originality with a couple of kick-ass comedy performances from the two main players.

Downey Jr is Peter Highman, an LA architect with anger-management issues. The opening scenes find him exasperated in Atlanta, courtesy of the fact that his wife is about to give birth on the other side of the continent.

His attempts to get a flight home are stymied by what's later described as a karmic encounter with one-man weapon of mass disruption Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis), a Hollywood-bound head-case, who dreams of making it big in Tinseltown.

The karmic soon takes a turn for the er ... carmic when Highman is obliged to hitch a ride with Tremblay and his pet pooch Sonny if he is to have any hope of making it across America in time to witness the birth of the new arrival. Naturally, the fur soon starts to fly. And that's just Sonny. Cue the type of comedy carmageddon that lacks a little in terms of credibility and characterisation but nothing in terms of comic oomph.

Stellar recently as both Sherlock Holmes and the quiptastic Iron Man, Downey Jr is again excellent as a man on a collision course at the end of his tether, while Galifianakis is also frequently hilarious as a likeable loser.

Some sequences work better than others, but if a couple of fun-filled hours of escapism is the intended destination, then this seriously funny road movie is guaranteed to get you where you want to go.


Due Date is now showing

You Again

Cert G

Hollywood teaches us things about US high-school-goers: every girl wants to be the cheerleading captain or the queen of something called a prom. And if it doesn't work out, they'll hold the grudge deep down in their nerdy loins and dream of retribution.

You Again, a fluffy and inoffensive family comedy from Disney, does little to monkey with this premise. We begin by watching our geeky protagonist Marni (Kristen Bell) being pursued down the school corridor by jocks and cheerleaders, who have clearly taken issue with her braces, specs and mild acne.

Jump forward a few years and Marni has blossomed into a confident New York PR executive. On a trip home to see the family, she discovers to her horror that her brother's fiancee is none other than the dastardly Joanna (Odette Yustman), her high-school nemesis. To make matters worse, Joanna's aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) and Marni's mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) have a similar history (Ramona's character is made all the more ominous by being well-travelled and French speaking).

Initially, everyone is nice to each other's faces, but before long they've all slipped into the kind of catty warfare associated with the female of the species.

The tone stays on a slapstick and farcical course that's more-or-less safe for younger viewers, a bit like Desperate Housewives sans raunch. There's lots of perfect American smiles and a relentless score to remind you how to feel at each juncture. Look carefully and you'll see some male characters in there, too. Victor Garber gets a few laughs as the eccentric dad, while fiance James Wolk is little more than a prop for the "women behaving badly".

Being Disneyland, things are wrapped up sweetly by the end; the ladies are all forced to take a good look at themselves and remember what's really important, etc.


You Again is out on Friday

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