Practically anything Phillips did would be seen as disappointing.
Here's the thing, however: Don't expect another "Hangover," and "Due Date" is just fine. It may not be as funny as that film, despite sharing Zach Galifianakis, but it's plenty funny enough. It still has more laughs than most of what passes for studio comedies — cough Adam Sandler cough — these days.
In what plays like an update of John Hughes' classic "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," Galifianakis is the John Candy to Robert Downey Jr.'s Steve Martin, and the must-rush-home event is not Thanksgiving, but the birth of Downey's first child. And like that not-buddies buddy comedy, "Due Date" has a heart beating beneath its surface.
After an initial misunderstanding gets them both thrown off an airplane and onto the no-fly list, the two mismatched personalities — Downey, straight-laced; Galifianakis, slovenly — are forced to endure one another as they seek alternative modes of transportation to get to Los Angeles.
For Downey's architect, this proves near-impossible, as his wallet is still in his luggage; for Galifianakis' aspiring actor with a "glaucoma problem" that requires "medical marijuana," well, it's just go with the flow. If his own stupidity manages to be his own stumbling block, so be it.
Both leads are ideally suited to their roles; I suspect they improvised well beyond what the four-writer script provided. While its pot humor is too easy, too obvious — although I did smile at an early line, not meant to be funny, in which Downey tells a security officer, "I've never done drugs in my life" — several other situations into which they find themselves stumbling are ripe for gags that pay off.
If Michelle Monaghan seems underutilized, she is; if Jamie Foxx seems shoehorned in, he is. But "Due Date" is a two-man show, and those men are as reliable as as any actors nowadays. This one won't go down in annals of comedy history, but neither will Phillips' "Road Trip," and that was amusing enough, too.
A word about the Blu-ray's few special features, which includes a gag reel worth watching and deleted scenes that are not: Don't peruse their menu, or even the box's back cover, lest you want the film's biggest surprise to be spoiled. —Rod Lott