Due Date: Is It a Plane or a Train or an Automobile Again? Here’s Hoping!

Sara Vilkomerson | September 24, 2010
Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis in "Due Date."

The movie Due Date isn’t out till November 5th, but that hasn’t stopped people (or, rather, The Internet) from buzzing obsessively over it. And why not? It’s Todd Phillips’s follow-up to The Hangover — the ’09 summer smash which seemed to single-handedly bring back the bromantic comedy — and it stars the uber-hot Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis (aka the most popular guys, these days, in the Hollywood lunch room).  The synopsis and trailer indicate a tale of mismatched travelers, forced together to try to get home in time for the impending birth of Robert Downey, Jr.’s character’s child. It’s a good trailer — viewed almost a half a million times already on YouTube!— giving room for the two stars’ offbeat delivery. (One version of the trailer features a solemn Robert Downey Jr. sharing a painful memory about the day his father abandoned their family, to which a crazy-eyed Galifianakis cracks up.) It had us thinking fondly about a different movie from over twenty years ago…and we’re beginning to think that someone over there at HBO was having the very same thought, because the Home Box Office has been playing the 1987 classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles an awful lot lately.

Seriously though, have you watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles lately? Written and directed by John Hughes, it stars Steve Martin and John Candy (guess which one would be played by Galifianakis in a remake) as an Odd Couple-like pair­­ who team up during a travel disaster in order to get home in time for Thanksgiving. It’s a very funny movie, and probably every dude of a certain age can recite some of the more memorable moments from the film (“Those aren’t pillows!”). “Like certain other popular entertainments (It’s a Wonderful Life, E.T., Casablanca), it not only contained a universal theme, but also matched it with the right actors and story, so that it shrugged off the other movies of its kind and stood above them in a kind of perfection,” wrote Roger Ebert, when re-evaluating the film in 2000.

Here’s a fun thing to think about the next time you watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (and there’s still time to set your DVR! HBO is playing it again on Saturday). Would any of its comedy be lost in the age of the internet/iPhone? (Would Steve Martin’s tightly wound character have been tweeting his displeasure at his mistreatment by the rental agency rather than losing his mind in line?  Discuss!).  Of course, Due Date, isn’t a true remake of the Hughes film, but it’s certainly never a bad  idea to stick these particular two actors in a road trip movie (and very clever indeed to put one them on a no-fly list as a nod to modern times) and sit back and see what happens. Apparently it will involve (in no particular order): a French Bulldog, Jamie Foxx, and human remains in a coffee can. Consider us there. And hey, Hollywood…start thinking about a re-do on All of Me next! We humbly suggest Jason Bateman and Elizabeth Banks as our choice of players.