I've been watching Zach Galifianakis live onstage here in LA for years now, and it's been strange watching him explode in popularity in the last year since the release of "The Hangover." It's not even like he was new to movies, but for whatever reason, "The Hangover" turned him into a sudden star, and so it shouldn't be a surprise to see movies being built around his particular comic persona.
If I had to describe that persona, I'd go with "seriously mentally unstable man-baby."
At least, that's what he played in "The Hangover," and that looks to be exactly what he's playing again in the new film from Todd Phillips. I thought the script for "Due Date" was familiar stuff, funny but definitely a rehash of very familiar ground that we've seen in movies like "Planes, Trains & Automobiles." Take two mismatched people, stick them together on a hellish road trip, and wait for the comic hijinks to ensue, right?
Casting Galifianakis opposite Robert Downey Jr. is smart casting. And it looks like there could be some genuine friction between the two of them based on the first trailer for "Due Date," released today. The problem I'm having is that it just all feels so familiar. The film may turn out to be very funny in context, but it's one of those films where I think even the most casual moviegoer is going to be ahead of the story from the very start, and no matter how well acted, I'm not sure you can win an audience over completely if they're sitting and waiting for story beats to play out.
Here's the "Due Date" trailer for you to consider yourself:
Now, there's another Galifianakis trailer that happened to get released this week, and it showcases another side of the performer. I think he's got real potential as a dramatic presence, precisely because he's so unusual and so intense. The directors of "Half Nelson" and "Sugar" are behind this new film, in which a teen ends up in the adult ward of a mental hospital, and Galiafinakis plays a key figure in the film, a patient who befriends the lead.
Check it out:
Between those two films, it looks like we'll see a lot of Galiafinakis this fall. Here's hoping both films turn out to be worth the invested time, and that Zach's not just burning through his fifteen minutes.
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