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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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Hildegard of Bingen: 
		<p>Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian--where to begin describing this remarkable woman?</p>
		<p>Born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta. When Hildegard was 18, she became a Benedictine nun at the Monastery of St. Disibodenberg. Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she'd received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her <em>Scivias</em> (<em>Know the Ways</em>). Pope Eugene III read it and in 1147 encouraged her to continue writing. Her <em>Book of the Merits of Life</em> and <em>Book of Divine Works</em> followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology, and sought advice from contemporaries such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux.</p>
		<p>Hildegard's visions caused her to see humans as "living sparks" of God's love, coming from God as daylight comes from the sun. Sin destroyed the original harmony of creation; Christ's redeeming death and resurrection opened up new possibilities. Virtuous living reduces the estrangement from God and others that sin causes. </p>
		<p>Like all mystics, she saw the harmony of God's creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries. </p>
		<p>Hildegard was no stranger to controversy. The monks near her original foundation protested vigorously when she moved her monastery to Bingen, overlooking the Rhine River. She confronted Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for supporting at least three antipopes. Hildegard challenged the Cathars, who rejected the Catholic Church claiming to follow a more pure Christianity.</p>
		<p>Between 1152 and 1162, Hildegard often preached in the Rhineland. Her monastery was placed under interdict because she had permitted the burial of a young man who had been excommunicated. She insisted that he had been reconciled with the Church and had received its sacraments before dying. Hildegard protested bitterly when the local bishop forbade the celebration of or reception of the Eucharist at the Bingen monastery, a sanction that was lifted only a few months before her death. </p>
		<p>In 2012, Hildegard was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.</p>
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