Directed by Todd Phillips (popular for ‘The Hangover‘), ‘Due Date’ is a black comedy road movie that follows two men sharing a long road trip across the country to Los Angeles. Peter Highman has less than five days to reach LA to be able to be present for the birth of his firstborn. Things go south when his luggage and wallet are sent from Atlanta to Los Angeles without him, and his name is listed under the no-fly list.
Following this event, Ethan Tremblay, an aspiring actor, offers him a ride and, desperate to get home, Peter accepts the offer. Little does the latter know, he is about to go on the longest, most terrifying, and unbearable road trip of his entire life. The comedy movie features two of the most comedy actors in the industry — Robert Downey Junior as Peter Highman and Zach Galifianakis as Ethan Tremblay. Moreover, Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, and Juliette Lewis also make an appearance in ‘Due Date’.
This journey of two dysfunctional road-trip buddies traveling across the country together is unlike Phillips’ other trademark movies as this road movie takes a mature tone as well, instead of only highlighting the over-the-top scenes. It makes one wonder if ‘Due Date’ was inspired by real-life events or was it just a figment of the imagination of the director’s creative mind? Well, let’s take a ride along with Peter and Ethan in the backseat and find out if the story is real or not!
Is Due Date Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Due Date’ is not based on a true story. However, it would be safe to say that it is a crude version of the comedy classic ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’. The director seemed to have taken inspiration from the relationship between John Candy and Steve Martin in the classic movie in order to portray the chemistry between the mismatched leads, Peter and Ethan, in ‘Due Date’.
In this R-rated comedy, Peter is in a hurry to get back home to Los Angeles, where his wife is expected to bring their firstborn into the world at any moment. Ethan, who has just come from his father’s funeral, carrying a coffee can full of his father’s ashes, wants to fulfill his aspiration of making it as an actor and giving the perfect burial to his father. A comedy of errors at the airport leads to their bags getting mixed up, both getting kicked off their plane, and Peter finding himself without his luggage and wallet. Just when he thinks that the day cannot get any worse, he finds himself with no other option than to be on the passenger seat of a rental car with none other than the cause of all his woes, Ethan. From then on, it proves to be a rather bumpy ride for both of them.
In an interview with MTV, Todd Phillips was asked if he went back and watched road trip movies such as ‘Planes, Trains, And Automobiles’ or ‘Tommy Boy’ for inspiration and to avoid certain things. He answered, “I love ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’ and I seriously love ‘Tommy Boy’, which is one of my favorites. But one movie all three of us looked at is ‘Midnight Run‘. That might be the best of the bunch. It’s not so much to emulate or avoid, it’s just to be inspired in some way. ‘Midnight Run’ was a big one for me.”
You can find similar themes and plots as ‘Due Date’ used in several different movies over the years, from ‘It Happened One Night’ to ‘The Sure Thing’. They all revolve around two utterly mismatched and incompatible people that are forced to travel for a long distance in the uneasy company of one another, get in and out of a few comic arguments and scrapes before falling in love or becoming the best of friends. So, even though ‘Due Date’ is not based on reality, it is surely an inspired piece of narrative from other similar movies, as admitted by Phillips himself.
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