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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Due Date

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

In director John Hughes' 1987 hit "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," two comic geniuses, Steve Martin and John Candy, played unlikely companions thrown together on a mishap-plagued journey home for Thanksgiving.

Tinged with tenderness, the proceedings eventually saw the two become friends after Martin's character discovered the endearing qualities lurking beneath Candy's bumbling ways.

Though it traces a similar arc, and invites comparison with Hughes' film, the sour comedy "Due Date" (Warner Bros.) is marked by a profoundly different tone: hard-edged, mean-spirited and, at times, violent.

Perhaps not surprisingly—given that director and co-writer (with Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland) Todd Phillips is best known for helming last year's morally anarchic but widely popular "The Hangover"—this frequently unpleasant odyssey also detours into comic portrayals of marijuana smoking and aberrant sexual behavior.

Phillips' odd-couple buddy flick follows the misadventures of disaster-prone aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), who's on his way to Hollywood in search of sitcom stardom, and uptight architect Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.), who's rushing home to Los Angeles for the birth of his first child.

After Ethan gets them involved in a misunderstanding that sees them both kicked off their flight from Atlanta and placed on the no-fly list, Peter—having lost ID, cash and credit cards in the incident—is left with no option but to drive to the West Coast in the company of his newfound nemesis.

Ethan, a somewhat effeminate man-boy, his hair permed in curls, his soft shoes from ballet manufacturer Capezio, displays a breezy disregard for all forms of common sense so grating that Peter's mounting fury with him seems entirely justifiable. All the more so when Ethan's supposedly amusing eccentricities turn out to include a taste for pot and a habit of lulling himself to sleep via self-gratification.

As the scene queasily showcasing the latter vice makes clear, Ethan's daily indulgence in it is in no way curbed by the proximity of his traveling companion a few feet away.

The script uses the recent death of Ethan's father to try to offset the nuisance factor and win sympathy. But its hesitant forays into gentleness are consistently thwarted by nasty interludes like a rumble with a stick-wielding, wheelchair-bound Iraq War veteran and an exchange in which Peter reveals a painful childhood secret, only to have Ethan laugh in his face.

The film contains drug trafficking and use, masturbation, about a half-dozen instances of profanity, pervasive rough and much crude language as well as some sexual jokes and references. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother (August 27), the instructions of Ambrose (December 7) and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, please fill my heart and soul with the confidence that you will always provide what I need, when I need it, and let me be obedient to you.

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