Due Date

15Jul09

No link.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: An expectant dad (along with an unlikely travel companion) races cross-country in hopes of making it home for the birth of his first child.
About: Todd Phillips, who made in excess of 35 million dollars by foregoing his salary for profit participation in The Hangover, has made Due Date his next film, to co-star Zach Galifianakis and be released next summer. The following summer (2011), he’ll release The Hangover 2, which I am looking for an early draft of (so if you have anything on the project, send it my way!).
Writers: Alan R. Cohen & Alan Freedland (March 6, 2009 draft)

The most unlikely movie-star in America

Nikki Finke had a huge write-up on her site about who was responsible for the success of The Hangover. Obviously, she’s got it all wrong. I was responsible for the success of The Hangover. Did I not have it here in my Top 15? I mean, duh. But seriously, the people responsible for The Hangover’s success are the writers who came up with the idea. It’s one of the few concepts I’ve heard that could’ve been interpreted a bunch of different ways and still been funny. It was just a great concept and a good reminder to all of you that a strong hook goes a long way.

So last week Todd Phillips announced that instead of going directly into The Hangover 2, he’d make this little road trip film, Due Date, first. It’s actually a smart idea. You snag Galifianakis so you got the familiarity factor, and you capitalize on the success of The Hangover without having to burn a Hangover sequel. Word is that Phillips is taking the script by Cohen and Freedland and Phillipsizing it. Which means we can expect the roadtrip version of a few tigers, Mike Tyson, and a breast-feeding Heather Graham. What else can we expect? Read the review to find out bra.

House-hunting in Bel-Air

Peter, a worrywart of a man with a mega-pregnant wife, has just been offered the chance of a lifetime: To sign Croatia’s biggest action movie/basketball star to his company’s Red Bull like drink, Bull Rush. To a man who doesn’t answer a question without consulting his ten-year plan, this could bring him the kind of financial security that every family dreams of. Oh, but there’s a small problem. Peter has to meet the Vlad Squad all the way across the country, only days before his wife is scheduled to have their baby (via a structurally convenient C-Section). This is cutting things mighty close but these kinds of opportunities don’t come along in life very often.

So Peter hops on a plane, flies to the east coast, and has a wonderful meeting with the Croation Sensation. It’s on his way back where the problems begin. At the airport he gets his bag mixed up with man-child Ethan (Galifianakis). Ethan’s bag is packed with all sorts of drug paraphernalia and other weird things. It’s enough to get Peter pulled into a back room and questioned. Peter barely makes his plane where he’s conveniently seated next to – who else but – Ethan. In a tired shtick we’ve seen a million times before, the two start arguing, sarcastically boasting that they have bombs in their bags, and wouldn’t you know it, get kicked off the plane.

Peter’s thrown on the No-Fly List and no rent-a-car List and No Everything Else list. But guess who is driving back to California??? That’s right. Ethan! The scruffy, lazy, farting, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants nimrod invites poor Peter along and since beggars can’t be choosers, Peter accepts the invitation.

After that, classic roadtrip hilarity ensues.

It doesn’t take long for Due Date to hit some bumps in the road. The biggest bump is that there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before. Add to that that Due Date is more concerned with hijinx than story and you’re looking at one grumpy Carson. As I may have mentioned before, I like a story in my screenplays. Look, I’m all about the lol if you can pull it off. But rooming with your easily insulted sister-in-law isn’t exactly Grade-A material. And crashing a college party doesn’t ring very high on the original-o-meter. These problems only serve to exaggerate the lack of story. And while there’s a decent subplot involving Peter’s absent dad, the main storyline of Peter’s baby being born isn’t threatened until very late in the script.

It’s page 80 to be exact. That’s the first moment where Cohen and Freedland take a chance and the first time the script actually surprised me. Peter and Ethan pay a visit to Peter’s old college buddy, Jim. Jim is a black man who used to date Peter’s wife. As Peter and Jim get to talking, Jim seems to know a little too much about Peter’s life and casually mentions some e-mail exchanges with Peter’s wife – none of which Peter knew about. As Peter takes a look around the house, he notices quite a few pictures up of Jim and his wife from their relationship days. A little later, he finds a “not so old” picture of the two at a restaurant. While Peter defends this discovery, Ethan insists that Jim is “fucking your wife.” This of course adds a whole new dimension to the birth of Peter’s child. Will it be his child? Or might his wife have been having an affair behind his back?

The mystery is exactly the kind of jolt the screenplay needed and for the last 30 pages of Due Date, I was right there wanting to know what happened. That’s more than I can say for the first 80. But for whatever reason – maybe they didn’t have confidence in the storyline or maybe they hadn’t fully fleshed it out – the mystery of whose baby it is is forgotten. I don’t think Cohen and Freedland are aware of what they have here. Due Date would gain tremendously from moving the Jim/Peter meeting up to the middle of the script, heightening our curiosity about his wife’s fidelity and increasing the mystery of the baby’s father for a lengthier stretch of the story. This also puts Peter in direct conflict with his character flaw – the idea that you can plan for everything – and overall just makes the story more interesting.

But the one thing that I kept coming back to during this read is how amazingly similar Due Date was to a script off of last year’s Black List, the hilarious The Most Annoying Man In The World. Of the two screenplays, “Annoying” has a better hook and is funnier overall. Who knows? Maybe Phillips shares this opinion but couldn’t get his hands on it.

Anyway, how a script ends has a huge effect on me and Due Date definitely saves face in the final act, tapping into an emotional component that simply wasn’t there for the earlier part of the script. And I think that Ethan is going to be a fun character onscreen. For that reason, I’ll recommend this, but only by a sliver.

Link: No link.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest

[x] worth the read

[ ] impressive

[ ] genius

What I learned: There’s usually a moment in every screenplay where your main character has to talk about a dramatic moment that happened earlier in his life (i.e. “My mother died when I was ten.” ” My wife left me for another man.”). Since most characters in movies have troubled pasts, these admissions almost always feel cliche. A character going into a monologue about how they came home from school one day and saw the ambulance is about as close to screenplay suicide as you can get. For that reason, there are little tricks to make these moments less schmaltzy. One, which Cohen and Freedland use, is to have your supporting character ask your main character about his past, and then have your main character resist answering. This takes the focus off the actual reveal and puts it more on his resistance. We’re more likely to buy into the story if we sense the character isn’t comfortable talking about it. Here’s the example from Due Date.

[scrippet]

ETHAN
So, is your dad still alive?

PETER
Yes.

ETHAN
What’s his deal, what’s he do?

PETER
I don’t know.

ETHAN
You don’t know? How do you not know?

PETER
I’ll tell you about it some other time. Good night.

ETHAN
C’mon, we’re having a conversation. We’re bonding.

PETER
(sighs)
He walked out on us when I was twelve. I don’t speak to him. I don’t even think about him.

ETHAN
I don’t believe that. Every guy thinks about his Dad. I think about mine all the time.

A beat.

PETER
We really should get to sleep.

ETHAN
Yeah. Alright.
[/scrippet]

You see how that reveals a traumatic experience for Peter but doesn’t draw attention to itself? How much better is that than this?
[scrippet]
Peter and Ethan are almost asleep. But Peter looks like he has something on his mind. He turns to Ethan.

PETER
You know my dad left me? He walked out on us when I was twelve. He doesn’t speak to me. I don’t even think he thinks about me. It’s really hard for me to wake up in the morning sometimes.”
[/scrippet]

LAAAAAAAME. Yet you’d be surprised at how many times I see this in scripts.

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46 Responses to “Due Date”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Thanks for the link!
    -RCL

  2. 2 Anonymous

    Thanks for the link!
    -RCL

  3. 3 Anonymous

    Carson, I want to make sex with your little finger. Lets get our people together and make this happen. Pronto.

    Pinky love,
    The Coot

  4. 4 Anonymous

    Carson, I want to make sex with your little finger. Lets get our people together and make this happen. Pronto.

    Pinky love,
    The Coot

  5. 5 Anonymous

    It sounds like a modern day take on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Thanks 🙂

  6. 6 Anonymous

    It sounds like a modern day take on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Thanks 🙂

  7. 7 Anonymous

    Thanks!

    (But it's Galifianakis.)

  8. 8 Anonymous

    Thanks!

    (But it's Galifianakis.)

  9. 9 Anonymous

    Thanks for the tweet on getting this early. 🙂

  10. 10 Anonymous

    Thanks for the tweet on getting this early. 🙂

  11. 11 Ben

    wheres the link? 😦

  12. 12 Ben

    wheres the link? 😦

  13. 13 Lonestarr

    Which of those excerpts is from the script? The first one reads damn good. The second…not so much.

  14. 14 Lonestarr

    Which of those excerpts is from the script? The first one reads damn good. The second…not so much.

  15. 15 Anonymous

    Lonestarr, he says "this is an example from Due Date" before the first excerpt. I think it's safe to assume the second is a made up example of what bad looks like.

  16. 16 Anonymous

    Lonestarr, he says "this is an example from Due Date" before the first excerpt. I think it's safe to assume the second is a made up example of what bad looks like.

  17. 17 PJ

    Again, no link. Twice in a row. What time do I have to wake up in order to get it? Tell me, please!

  18. 18 PJ

    Again, no link. Twice in a row. What time do I have to wake up in order to get it? Tell me, please!

  19. 19 Anonymous

    I'm not sure what redemption you found in the ending. It felt tacked on and rushed, not any kind of emotional catharsis. After reading and love The Hangover, this script really pissed me off in it's lack of cleverness or originality. It's like a 15 year old tried to rewrite Planes, Trains and Automobiles without the life experiences necessary to create such a story…

  20. 20 Anonymous

    I'm not sure what redemption you found in the ending. It felt tacked on and rushed, not any kind of emotional catharsis. After reading and love The Hangover, this script really pissed me off in it's lack of cleverness or originality. It's like a 15 year old tried to rewrite Planes, Trains and Automobiles without the life experiences necessary to create such a story…

  21. 21 Anonymous

    LMAO. It's even less original than you guys are saying.

    The same writers did a polish on "Flight Risk", a script that was set up at Disney.

    That script was about a guy, just days away from his wedding, who has to drive cross country to take a troublesome, annoying kid to his new boarding school.

    Due Date and Flight Risk are incredibly similar. The kid in Flight Risk gets them thrown off a plane, they have to rent a car, etc… But that's all typical road trip movie stuff. There are more interesting similarities as well. In Flight Risk, the kid is constantly listening to his ipod, annoying the main character. In Due Date, the Zach G character is constantly messing with his iPhone, annoying the main character. In Flight Risk, the main character is estranged from his father and is forced to go see him along the way. In Due Date, the main character is, you guessed it, estranged from his father and is forced to go see him along the way.

    Due Date basically reads like the writers were hired to work on Flight Risk, got an idea on how to make it more castable by changing the literal kid to a manchild, then set it up as a new project elsewhere when they were done.

  22. 22 Anonymous

    LMAO. It's even less original than you guys are saying.

    The same writers did a polish on "Flight Risk", a script that was set up at Disney.

    That script was about a guy, just days away from his wedding, who has to drive cross country to take a troublesome, annoying kid to his new boarding school.

    Due Date and Flight Risk are incredibly similar. The kid in Flight Risk gets them thrown off a plane, they have to rent a car, etc… But that's all typical road trip movie stuff. There are more interesting similarities as well. In Flight Risk, the kid is constantly listening to his ipod, annoying the main character. In Due Date, the Zach G character is constantly messing with his iPhone, annoying the main character. In Flight Risk, the main character is estranged from his father and is forced to go see him along the way. In Due Date, the main character is, you guessed it, estranged from his father and is forced to go see him along the way.

    Due Date basically reads like the writers were hired to work on Flight Risk, got an idea on how to make it more castable by changing the literal kid to a manchild, then set it up as a new project elsewhere when they were done.

  23. 23 Anonymous

    Oops. I meant thanks for the review. There wasn't a link today…
    RCL

  24. 24 Anonymous

    Oops. I meant thanks for the review. There wasn't a link today…
    RCL

  25. 25 JG

    Why are you posting scripts when they're just getting taken down? Seems like you should seek permission BEFORE you post scripts, not post them and wait for someone to C&D you.

  26. 26 JG

    Why are you posting scripts when they're just getting taken down? Seems like you should seek permission BEFORE you post scripts, not post them and wait for someone to C&D you.

  27. 27 Anonymous

    He should start asking permission when studios stop making movies like Transformers.

  28. 28 Anonymous

    He should start asking permission when studios stop making movies like Transformers.

  29. 29 wFavaro

    If he asked for permission, he'd only get enough "yes" answers to write a review per month.

  30. 30 wFavaro

    If he asked for permission, he'd only get enough "yes" answers to write a review per month.

  31. 31 Anonymous

    can someone send me the script to read. sounds funny. unfortunately, I couldn't stay up late enough for the tweet. it was LATE!

    trailertrashers@gmail.com

  32. 32 Anonymous

    can someone send me the script to read. sounds funny. unfortunately, I couldn't stay up late enough for the tweet. it was LATE!

    trailertrashers@gmail.com

  33. 33 Anonymous

    Can't stay up late enough for Carson's posts? Jeez. Guess some people just don't have the professional stamina to build a bubble-shrine to Carson in their closets.

  34. 34 Anonymous

    Can't stay up late enough for Carson's posts? Jeez. Guess some people just don't have the professional stamina to build a bubble-shrine to Carson in their closets.

  35. 35 Anonymous

    It really sucks when this studios ask the links to be taken down. Sure they have the right to ask the scripts be taken down but has any script posting on the net ever hurt a movie's box office regardless of whether the review of the script was good or bad? Most people who read scripts online are aspiring writers just wanting to know the trick of trade.

    Most fans don't even know a film is coming out until they see the trailers at the movies.

    This studios need a chill pill with their rush to declare projects top secret.

  36. 36 Anonymous

    It really sucks when this studios ask the links to be taken down. Sure they have the right to ask the scripts be taken down but has any script posting on the net ever hurt a movie's box office regardless of whether the review of the script was good or bad? Most people who read scripts online are aspiring writers just wanting to know the trick of trade.

    Most fans don't even know a film is coming out until they see the trailers at the movies.

    This studios need a chill pill with their rush to declare projects top secret.

  37. 37 Anonymous

    ^^^agree with the above poster.

    So I think the studio's mentality is that…
    1.) They like the control the buzz related to their movie. They want to GIVE reasons to be excited, not let the overall material speak for itself.
    2.) It's an unfinished project. Not only will the script change, but it's devoid of their A-list directors and actors. I'm sure it simply irks them to take shit from people before it's the finished product they're paid to produce.
    3.) For select projects, the plot/ending is vital, so they want to keep it from people. Which obviously doesn't make much sense, because the media in general is very good about listing spoilers as spoilers. I mean, they're going to have the same problem after the movie starts screenings and premieres anyway. If someone deliberately seeks out that information, they'll get it regardless if the script is widely posted.

    So I get their reasoning, but I think you're right… average box office Joe doesn't give a crap about the script. It requires reading. They just want to watch the damn thing, and they don't know about it until the marketing begins anyway.

  38. 38 Anonymous

    ^^^agree with the above poster.

    So I think the studio's mentality is that…
    1.) They like the control the buzz related to their movie. They want to GIVE reasons to be excited, not let the overall material speak for itself.
    2.) It's an unfinished project. Not only will the script change, but it's devoid of their A-list directors and actors. I'm sure it simply irks them to take shit from people before it's the finished product they're paid to produce.
    3.) For select projects, the plot/ending is vital, so they want to keep it from people. Which obviously doesn't make much sense, because the media in general is very good about listing spoilers as spoilers. I mean, they're going to have the same problem after the movie starts screenings and premieres anyway. If someone deliberately seeks out that information, they'll get it regardless if the script is widely posted.

    So I get their reasoning, but I think you're right… average box office Joe doesn't give a crap about the script. It requires reading. They just want to watch the damn thing, and they don't know about it until the marketing begins anyway.

  39. 39 Anonymous

    "He should start asking permission when studios stop making movies like Transformers."

    Ame, brother. A-fuckin-men.

  40. 40 Anonymous

    "He should start asking permission when studios stop making movies like Transformers."

    Ame, brother. A-fuckin-men.

  41. 41 Anonymous

    I'd really like to read this. Can one of you guys please send this to me?

    bennybobd@gmail.com

  42. 42 Anonymous

    I'd really like to read this. Can one of you guys please send this to me?

    bennybobd@gmail.com

  43. 43 Anonymous

    I thought this was pretty derivative and bad. Can't really imagine Galifiniakis in his role, either. This will probably be rewritten heavily.

  44. 44 Anonymous

    I thought this was pretty derivative and bad. Can't really imagine Galifiniakis in his role, either. This will probably be rewritten heavily.

  45. 45 oddboggle

    The site (or the links) needs to go guerrilla!
    But it's clear Carson Reeves is the new Harry Knowles. (A well-deserved compliment despite the Knowles reference.)

    But, Carson, if you start taking bribes and swag for positive word of mouth, I'm coming after you.

    Copy please?

    Oddboggle@aol.com

  46. 46 oddboggle

    The site (or the links) needs to go guerrilla!
    But it's clear Carson Reeves is the new Harry Knowles. (A well-deserved compliment despite the Knowles reference.)

    But, Carson, if you start taking bribes and swag for positive word of mouth, I'm coming after you.

    Copy please?

    Oddboggle@aol.com


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