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Due Date is the heartwarming story of two guys traveling together on a journey that will, in the end, help them both to learn more about themselves.
And if you believe that, we have a bridge we'd like to sell you.
Due Date, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, is a comedy about two men trying to get to Hollywo... er, Los Angeles. Peter Highman (Downey) is a rather low-tempered man, due to the fact that his wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan) is about to give birth and he is trying to get back to Los Angeles in time for it and figure out what to name his soon-coming son. He meets Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) and soon gets almost arrested twice, shot by a rubber bullet and put on a No-Fly list due to using the words "bomb" and "terrorist," all thanks to being near Ethan. To make up for it, Ethan gives Peter a lift because he is going to Hollywood to become an actor. Ethan also has an interview around the same time as Peter's wife. Making the trip more difficult is the fact that Ethan seems to have never grown up and wanting to go to the Grand Canyon, Peter's inability to relax and the fact that Ethan seems unable to rub two brain cells together.
Will they make it in time?
The tropes present in this movie are:
- Actor Allusion: Peter has never taken drugs before (or so he claims).
- Adult Child: Zach Galifianakis is in full Alan-from-The Hangover mode with Ethan's character.
- Amazing Freaking Grace: A version by Rod Stewart on the soundtrack.
- Ambiguously Gay: Ethan, very, very much.
- Ashes to Crashes
- As You Know: Parodied during Ethan's acting exercise.
Ethan [in character]: As you know, I'm your fiance. I have terminal cancer.
- Bad Bad Acting: When Ethan is challenged to act out scene prompts, he just repeats the prompt.
- Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Sort of: Peter's journey is right before the birth of his child and Ethan's is right after the death of his father.
- Black Best Friend: Peter's friend Darryl, played by Jamie Foxx (who happens to be Robert Downey Jr's real-life friend; they co-starred in The Soloist). In a possible parody of the Magical Negro idea, the first half of Darryl's appearance is essentially him guiding Peter to do the right thing and help Ethan, and then after an extremely short period of time he ends up kicking Ethan out of his house himself (to which Peter is extremely sympathetic).
- Book Dumb: Ethan. For example, he thought the Grand Canyon was in Texas and that it was artificial. Peter corrects him, saying it's in Arizona and that nature carved it.
- Break The Dummy: After getting his arm broken, Peter absolutely snaps on Ethan and tears him a new one on so many levels.
- Brick Joke: "What are you, some kind of girl or something?"
- Butt Monkey: Peter, Peter, Peter. Note that only some of it is actually deserved. (Heavy crossover with Jerkass Woobie.)
- Cloudcuckoolander: Crosses with Book Dumb and The Ditz for Ethan.
- Completely Missing the Point / Mathematician's Answer:
Peter: Why...are your father's ashes...in a coffee can?
Ethan: Because he's dead, Peter!
- Dead Baby Comedy
- Deadpan Snarker: Peter
- The Ditz: Quite often, Ethan acts in a cosmically stupid manner.
- Dueling Stars Movie
- Easily Forgiven: Ethan Tremblay. Even when Peter kicks his ass for having had his wallet the entire time, that's a sheer fraction of what Ethan deserves.
- Foreshadowing: In the first scene of the movie, Peter describes a bizarre dream to his wife about a bear cutting his child's umbilical cord and the fact that, in the dream, he was alright with it. Guess who cuts the umbilical cord at the end of the movie?
- There's a scene in the middle of the film where Peter gets a contact high from riding in the car with Ethan while he's doing weed. At one point, he looks over at Ethan and sees a bear, further driving the point home.
- Hidden Heart of Gold / Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Peter may seem incredibly mean-spirited at times, but he shows plenty of signs that he's actually a good guy, namely not ditching Ethan's father's ashes on the side of the road and comforting Ethan on more than one occasion as he tries to deal with the loss of his father.
- Arguably, Ethan fits this (since his Jerkassery is mostly attributable to being an overgrown child, and he is almost always well-intentioned).
- Hilarious Outtakes: Like you wouldn't believe.
Robert Downey Jr.: (jokingly) Fuck, I'm surrounded by dickheads!
- Ho Yay: It's heavily implied that Ethan is a homosexual.
- Karma Houdini: Surprisingly, Ethan never gets arrested for smoking pot or stealing a deportation officer's van to "rescue" Peter. In fact, he is actually rewarded by eventually getting to appear on Two and A Half Men.
- Man Child: Ethan. He couldn't be more immature if he was an actual teenager. Peter has some emotional problems as well, although stress could explain both their issues (although since Ethan's the one causing most of the stress..).
- Manic Pixie Nightmare Dude: Also Ethan.
- Marijuana Is LSD: The trippy scene when Ethan is smoking in the car.
- Justified in that Peter was also high on vicodin at the time.
- The Millstone: Ethan
- Minor Insult Meltdown: Steve to Ethan
- Mood Whiplash: Several times. The most jarring ones are when Peter challenges Ethan to act and he fails horribly twice until he asks him to play a football coach whose wife wants a divorce and Ethan ends up crying for real as it makes him think about his father; the second one is after Darryl accidentally makes coffee out of his father's remains but Ethan drops the ashes while trying to recover what's left, and ends up sobbing on the carpet while Peter comforts him. Also from the heartwarming scene of scattering Ethan's dad's ashes to Peter beating Ethan up for having his wallet.
- The Mountains Of East Texas: A shot shows the car passing a sign that says "Dallas - 36 miles." Cut to Peter and Ethan talking in the car with mountains passing in the background.
- Only Sane Man: Peter. Aside from Ethan, everyone else that he encounters also seems to be a bit mentally off-kilter, other than his own wife and his friend.
- Parental Substitute: Peter is significantly more mature than Ethan and often provides fatherly comfort for him during their trip, particularly in two scenes -- when Ethan accidentally drops the ashes on the carpet and breaks down, and when he convinces Ethan to spread his father's ashes in the Grand Canyon.
- Plot Hole: The film doesn't explain how Peter and Ethan got back into the United States driving a stolen Mexican cop car, and without Peter's ID.
- Race Against the Clock: The final desperate drive to get to Los Angeles in time to see Peter's baby born.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: After getting put on a no-fly list; being forced to travel with Ethan, the guy who got him put on the list, and trying without success to get money transferred from his very pregnant wife, Peter explodes at the Western Union employee. Said employee is a handicapped Iraq War veteran who trounces Peter.
- And if that wasn't bad enough, Peter later finds out that Ethan had his wallet the whole time and arranged it so they would travel together. Peter responds by slamming Ethan's face into the truck and trying to strangle him.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "I despise who you are on a cellular level."
- Repurposed Hip-Hop Song: Ice Cube's "Check Yo Self" was used in a lot of commercials. Usually around the part when Ethan quotes the song.
- Road Movie
- Shaped Like Itself: "Dad, you were like a father to me..."
- Spiritual Successor: To The Hangover, from the same director, and to Planes, Trains and Automobiles as both films feature an Odd Couple that are traveling cross-country together.
- Stock Scream: A Wilhelm Scream as Peter and Ethan are hurtling through a construction zone.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ethan. He's nearly too dumb for Peter to live.
- Unfortunate Names: Ethan names Peter's daughter Rosie. "Wait, 'Little Rosie Highman'?"
- Vitriolic Best Buds
- We Could Have Avoided All This: Never mind that it was all Ethan's fault anyway, Ethan later reveals he had Peter's wallet the whole time.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ethan hiding Peter's wallet because he didn't want to be alone.
- Whole-Plot Reference: Many reviews called it a mean-spirited version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
- Why Do You Hate the Dog?: Though more aware of how annoying the dog is than usual, it's still played straight.
- Would Hurt a Child: Peter, fairly mildly. It's played for an odd mix of shock, laughs, and character development.
- Younger Than They Look / Older Than They Look: Ethan claims he's 23. He later admits it's not true, but he doesn't say how old he is.