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A Beard, a Bulldog and a Big-Brained Blue Guy

This week bought me a special treat: a double-feature. I had the opportunity to go see Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis in Due Date as well as the Dreamworks animated feature Megamind.

First on Sunday morning was Due Date. The set up is simple. Robert Downey Jr. plays Peter Highman (really?) an architect away from home on business. His wife Sarah is scheduled to have a c-section in five days. Arriving at the airport, Peter meets Ethan Tremblay, played by Zach Galifianakis, an eccentric wanna-be actor who is traveling with his French bulldog, Sunny.

After an accidental bag swap outside of the airport, which sets up one of the running plot devices, it turns out that Highman and Tremblay are not only on the same flight to L.A. but sitting one row apart. One comedic misunderstanding later that helps to build up Highman’s temper, both Highman and Tremblay are kicked off of the plane and Highman has been added to the no-fly list.

Unfortunately for Highman, he left his wallet and luggage on the plane when he was forcibly removed, thereby making it impossible for him to rent a car or even purchase a bus ticket. Ethan, who was also kicked off of the plane, finds Peter and offers to share his rental car to make the cross country trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Thus begins an anti-buddy comedy road movie.

If you like Zach and Downey, you’ll like this one. I don’t know how anyone couldn’t like Zach. He seems to be someone who really lives his act (or he is really like that), but either way, you know what you’re going to get with Zach. Downey has a way about him where he can play damaged characters with ease and make them believable. I know not everyone likes him, but I do.

There are some great bit parts to watch for. Matt Walsh, Juliette Lewis, director Todd Philips and Jamie Foxx all have great comedic bit parts, but Danny McBride’s Lonnie, the check cashing place worker, really steals his scene.

It’s not much more than a buddy-comedy road movie, but Zach and RDJ really help make it not seem so formulaic.

The second feature I saw could have used something (anything) to make it seem not so formulaic. Dreamworks brings us another 3-D animated feature, this one directed by Tom McGrath, director of Madagascar and its sequel and a couple of Ren & Stimpy episodes.

Megamind, voiced by Will Farrell, begins similarly to the Superman story, with a dying planet sending their last son to Earth. Unfortunately for Megamind, the next planet over has the same idea, setting up the two in competition. While Megamind learns to use his intellect to try to work smarter, Metroman, voiced by Brad Pitt, uses his strength and super powers to win the hearts of those around him. Unfortunately, Megamind’s inventions and plan seem to drive others away. Eventually he accept the fact that he is good at being bad, embracing his place as nemesis of Metroman.

Other voice talent in this one includes Jonah Hill as Hal/Tighten, Tina Fey as Roxanne Ritchi, Ben Stiller as Bernard and the best fit, David Cross as Minion. The story is pretty much spelled out in the trailer, but here goes: Metroman and Megamind are arch enemies. Megamind has a thing for reporter Roxanne Ritchi and always kidnaps her. Metroman always saves the city and Roxanne. One day Megamind’s plan works, destroying Metroman. After running around Metro City, doing whatever he wants for a while, Megamind realizes that he is meant to be a villain, but without a hero, there is no fun in it.

With the help of Minion, Megamind extracts Metroman’s super powers from dandruff and accidentally infuses Roxanne’s camera-man Hal with Metroman’s super powers. With the use of a disguising device, he trains Hal to become Tighten, Metro City’s new hero. Unfortunately, Tighten uses his new powers for selfish gain, eventually becoming a villain worse than Megamind.

The trailers spoil the movie more than I will and I can’t believe there is one point that they give away. It doesn’t matter, though. The movie is a little too deep for young kids and not imaginative enough for older kids. Pitt and Cross are given the best lines. For me, they should have thought harder about Megamind. Even the all-star cast couldn’t keep the latest 3-D release from feeling flat.

How much would I pay to see these again, out of $10?

Due Date
– I would pay $6. It was not bad, but I don’t know if it will hold up to repeat viewings.

Megamind – I would pay $4. The 3-D didn’t add anything and the story just didn’t work. Decent cast, but that wasn’t enough.

Jay Fralick is the co-host of the Wanna Watch a Movie? Podcast

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Images: Warner Bros./Dreamworks

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  1. Walter says:

    The only thing I will agree with on Megamind is that they gave away too much in the trailer. But I was actually surprised at how clever and interesting the story was. Granted I only watched the first hour thanks to my 2 year old becoming disinterested and running amok thus ending the movie experience for us.

    The inherent notion in 95% of all superhero movies is that if you hand a misunderstood white guy superpowers he will automatically do good. The fact that they challenged that cliche was enough to get me to actually pay real attention to the movie rather than just waiting for 3D eye candy which this movie from the 50+ mins I watched actually had a decent amount of. From most of the flying sequences, the Titan vs Giant Robot fight scene and Megaminds laser light take over of city hall were pretty dope imo.

    I personally came into Megamind with low expectations and will actually try to finish watching it (sans toddler) but I enjoy what I saw.

  2. Eric says:

    I enjoyed Megamind as well. Granted, the theatre wasn’t packed with screaming kids and texting teens, so that helped. But still, I laughed several times (in the Out Loud tradition) and thought the story was pretty original. I will agree that the 3D was totally unneccessary (or underutilized) and I wished my theatre had a 2D option. Honestly I was surprised I liked Megamind as much as I did because normally Will Ferrel grates on me, but I guess the ridiculous accent was enough to make me forget that was him I was listening to.

  3. I have to disagree with your assessment of Megamind. It could just be that I love comics and am pre-disposed to enjoy anything with superheroes, but I thought it was engrossing and very well done. There were so many references to things (Superman movies, other comics and, somewhat inexplicably, the Beatles) that adults will enjoy and won’t leave them bored out of their minds if attending with children that dragged them to the theater. As far as it being formulaic, I would tend to agree with you but the subtle twist on it was enough for me to not mind. Not saying it’s a perfect movie by far but just offering a different take on it. Great article nonetheless.