Back in 2009, director Todd Phillips released a sash hit comedy film that easily became the funniest movie of the year; The Hangover; so when he once again teamed up with star Zach Galifianakis, and placed him alongside Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr. for comedy road-trip movie Due Date, expectations were bound to be high.
Thankfully, despite the slew of trailers that spoilt many of the movie’s major jokes, Due Date managed to live up to audiences high expectations; thanks to some great chemistry between the lead actors, perfect comedic timing, hilarious jokes, and wonderful cameo appearances; that ensured the movie was a laugh-out-loud hit.
Essentially just an update of the classic comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; featuring a father trying to get home for an important date, who’s forced to travel in close company with a slightly overweight and infuriating companion (who in this case causes fights, car crashes, and a great deal of anger and annoyance wherever he goes); Due Date is is bound to be enjoyed by any fan of The Hangover, and is the perfect comedic way to fill the gap before the release of The Hangover Part II.
Thankfully, like the film, the video quality of Due Date’s Blu-ray transfer surpasses most people’s expectations; having a gritty and more realistic feel than that of most comedy movies (which tend to favor an overly warm palette), with exceptional levels of fine detail (highlighting every pore, piece of stubble, and speck of dirt that’s evident on the superbly textured clothes), solid and deep blacks (which help to provide a good deal of depth, and only rarely suffer from the most minor crushing), and impeccable skin tones.
What’s also great about this transfer; aside from the dazzling way in which the grand locations are presented; is the fact that there are almost no visible anomalies; there’s the slight crush, and some minor ringing here and there, but they are so insignificant that they will be missed by most viewers, and as artifacting, banding, and aliasing are nowhere to be found, it makes for a truly great presentation, of a wonderfully funny film.
Similarly Due Date’s audio presentation; an impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix; is also a cut above the usual comedy fare; with perfectly placed, leveled, and intelligible dialogue that thankfully never becomes lost in all the chaos of the film, excellent bass that gives weight to any smash or thump, and adds to the impressive nature of the movies music tracks (which often fill the soundstage and are a joy to listen to).
One of the main gripes with this track comes from the fact that the rear channels aren’t always as aggressive as they should be, although they do contain their fair share of ambience (which is always fairly encompassing, natural, and lifelike), and really spring into life during the more action packed moments; helping to incorporate some seamless pans, and precise directional effects.
Overall the audio mix for Due Date is fairly impressive; as whilst not hitting the perfect highs and lows of a mix such as that accompanying The Pacific, it remains lifelike, engaging, consistently fun, always intelligible, and punchy whenever it needs to be; making it a mix that’s sure to impress any listener, and only heighten viewers enjoyment of the film.
What does let the disc down somewhat is the selection of special features included; as while getting to see Ethan’s full Two and A Half Men scene is a nice touch (but ultimately unnecessary, as it’s basically in the movie anyway), and the gag reel is mildly amusing, the deleted scenes are pretty dull, and the mash-ups of both the action sequences, and Ethan’s many questions, are a complete waste of time.
In short it feels like all the bonus materials included on the Due Date Blu-ray are nothing more than filler material; failing to produce an audio commentary of any description, lacking any making of, or short featurettes, and simply making do with some basic fluff that doesn’t really give anything back to the films fans; meaning it’s likely to disappoint, and is only raised slightly by the fact that it comes to Blu-ray via Triple Play (bundled with a DVD and Digital Copy).
The Bottom Line:
In the end though, despite the average selection of special features, Due Date is a great movie to own on Blu-ray, as it’s bound to have just about any viewer in stitches; thanks to Ethan’s crazy antics, his winning personality, and the way both of those things thoroughly wind Peter up; making for a hilarious movie which has taken a tried and tested formula, and managed to successfully introduce Planes, Trains and Automobiles to a new generation.
Being a comedy which largely takes place inside a car, or at various small locales (such as a rest area, a couple of living rooms, and the outsides of a few convenience stores or gas stations), it’s not entirely essential to watch Due Date in High Definition, but anyone who does will be in for a treat; because the DTS-HD MA mix does a great job of brining the movie to life, and not only does the picture showcase the quality of Ethan’s excellent perm, and the way in which Peter’s has been weathered, but makes some of the more grand locations look spectacular.
Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis are both on top comedic form in Due Date, and while it might not reach the same dizzying heights as The Hangover (even though it uses one or two jokes that are very similar), it’s a great movie that will undoubtedly gain a large number of laughs, be watched many times over, and does a great job of filling the comedic gap before the release of The Hangover Part II this summer.