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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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James: This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20). 
<p>James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani. </p><p>Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!” </p><p>The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life. </p><p>On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them...” (Luke 9:54-55). </p><p>James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a). </p><p>This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.</p> American Catholic Blog Walk the talk. Show, don’t tell. Values are caught, not taught—all variations of one theme: A good example is essential for good parenting.

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