Planes Trains and Automobiles

In _____________, a straight laced businessman is about to embark on a cross-country flight to return home for an important family event.  Through a wacky series of misadventures, he cannot fly home so he is stuck on a journey with a lovable idiot trying to get home in time for the important event.  Hilarity ensues.

Yes, Due Date is a rip-off of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  I figured it’s about time to finally say why it’s a rip-off and why it’s inferior in so many ways.   But I should probably say something first: this is not me being a film snob who thinks the movies of yesteryear are superior to anything the artistically bankrupt present-day film industry could possibly churn out.  I really wanted to like Due Date.  Really, really, really wanted to.  It was directed by Todd Phillips, the brilliant director of Old School and The Hangover, (both of which I LOVE).  Robert Downey Jr. is a very talented actor and I’ve been a fan of Zach Galihoweveritsspelled ever since I saw him do stand up seven years ago.

But I just flat out did not enjoy Due Date.  The main characters are the reason why the movie fails so miserably.  Spoiler alerts.

RDJ’s character has anger management problems.  Like, really serious problems.  He punches a small child in the stomach and slams ZG’s face into a car in two separate fits of rage and INSULTS AN IRAQ WAR VET TO HIS FACE.  How is this funny?  The anger management problems are NEVER ADDRESSED.  No speech apologizing, not even a line of dialogue expressing regret.  We’re supposed to just forget him physically attacking people and in general being a bad person.

ZG’s character is supposed to be a lovable idiot, but he only plays the idiot part, without the slightest hint of lovability.  He blows all of their money on “medicinal” marijuana, screws up at the Western Union by writing down his stage name instead of his real name and does a whole host of other things that no actual human being would do.

Conversely, in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Steve Martin’s straight-laced character does have a breakdown, but given what he’s gone through, it makes sense.  Him breaking character and ranting is out of the blue and hilarious, mostly because he doesn’t actually hurt somebody.

Also, John Candy’s lovable idiot is actually funny.  Plus, he’s never the CAUSE of the problems with getting home that face Steve Martin (unlike Due Date), he just happens to always be present.  He ends up as the symbol of Martin’s frustration and difficulty in his quest to get home.

In movies like these, the likability of the characters is directly related to how enjoyable the movie is.  The fact that I wanted Zach Galifiwhatever’s character to get hit by a bus and RDJ’s character isn’t likable due to the aforementioned issues, I could not like Due Date.  But it did drive me to re-watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which always makes me smile.  So it’s not a total loss, I guess.

For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-Man.

One thought on “Planes Trains and Automobiles

  1. Dude, fine review, fine movie. Those two did it well. I almost want to cry when Candy is spurned and alone, before Steve’s outreach.


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