Saturday, 19 March 2011

REVIEW: "Due Date" & The Bro-mance genre

For people who can't wait for The Hangover 2 - might as well catch Due Date ...

Firstly I must apologise for the lack of posts recently. The long and short of it is my commitment to my day job and also I am working my way through The X Files. 9 fucking years worth of X Files - and just so you know, I'm actually rediscovering how much I loved it in the first place! But anyway ... Due Date, first film I've watched in a rather shit last couple of months of films and something I've had lying about for a while.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with director Todd Phillips, I like where he comes from, I like his style but sometimes his immaturity proceeds his lack of skill. I know the guy did The Hangover which was good, perhaps not as good as all the praise it got, but it was good. After all, this was the first time a lot of people had seen Zach Galifianakis, that people had realised the subtle genius of Ed Helms and that Bradley Cooper was more than just a pretty face, so it was a good shout but after all Phillips is one of the masters of the Bro-mance, just as cliche as the chick flick is to girls.

Without sounding like a nob, which I know is hard for me to do, I had been banging on since the millennium started that the Bromance genre will take off and will even get as silly and soppy as chick flicks turned out to be. That the way men wouldn't want to go see silly rom-coms, women wouldn't want to see gross-out boy films and essentially the gross-out is leaving and being replaced by a core emotional centre of emasculated men left in a western society that makes them feel isolated and lacking identity. Essentially, these films, such as Todd Phillips films, are the equivalent of war films back in the day, a group of men striving to reach one goal whether it's like in Due Date where they are trying to reach a location, Starsky & Hutch where they are trying to solve a crime or The Hangover when they are trying to find a man (Saving Private Ryan perhaps?) but the comraderie that comes with it and how the experience brings them closer together is something key in bro-mance. After all, as it's suggested in Fight Club, we don't have any world wars to fight in, so we make our own.

The problem with Due Date is that it's clearly a progression from buddy flick to bro-mance and it's a clear indication of where the times are going in terms of the genre. Essentially, like a good rom-com, the two hate each other but become 'best friends' by the end and is an example of how it's starting to mirror the rom-com in so many ways. The problem with this film is that it's execution is rather lazy, like all Phillips' films they are about a sequence of rather random events that tie up together at the end and it leaves the viewer somewhat disorientated - it's punch at human emotion hits so hard without jabbing it throughout the film, that it leaves you feeling rather queasy when it drives it home. It feels fake, forced and rather ill fitting amongst the rest of the film. The key though is that it taps into people's hearts in a soft, unpatronising, quite innocent way that subconciously affects men of all ages. It's genius is in it's stupidity and never pretends to be more than it is.

As a film however, Due Date is rather flawed. The scenes ramble by and ZG plays his typical chubby, cuddly, clumsy self that he seems to do in every film - the mock-confident bravado that tries to cover up his underlying stupidity is both alluring and irritating making the perfect loveable scamp combination. Downey Junior (DJ from now on) falls right into place with his Tony Stark-esque persona that ends up having to babysit ZG as they try and go to California - DJ to be at his baby's birth and ZG to become an actor.

To be honest, the pairing up of these two doesn't look right on paper but worked quite well. DJ is perhaps rather above what was needed here but it's good for him to flex his muscles a bit more into other roles that clearly rely on character - however at times, he just felt a bit out of place and pretty much looked like how he does in Iron Man, which is hard to forget while you're watching. It's got a great ensemble which works (Danny McBride) and doesn't work (Jamie Foxx - this guy seriously got an Oscar?) and some bits I properly laughed out loud at but it felt somewhat soulless. ZG really brought the emotional depth which was surprising, but the love for his father and the delusions of grandeur he exhibits makes me rather pity him and I constantly felt sorry for him. It was a weird bag of emotions for something that is supposed to be a normal road movie, but it is easily quite forgettable. It felt confused and lacking something that could have made it great but overall, it was a nice departure from some bad comedy cannon fodder that's been released lately. This could have easily gone very wrong but instead it becomes a slight ray of sunshine breaking through a rather lame output of comedies as of late.

It's not something I'd say you have to see, but it's definitely worth checking out and makes a great Friday night viewing. It's not The Hangover, but then no-one expected it to be.

Rating: 6/10

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