If you want to be schooled in comedy, get ready, because class is in session and you will be tested on this later.
Lesson number one: “People who are like a truck with no brakes are inherently funny.” So decrees Zach Galifianakis when discussing his new movie, Due Date.
The film, which reunites Galifianakis with his Hangover director, Todd Phillips, offered him the chance to go mano a mano with Robert Downey Jr., who stars as a high-strung father-to-be forced to hitch a ride across the country with a train wreck aspiring actor (Galifianakis) in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.
Sitting down to speak with the trio and looking over their cumulative bodies of work, you realize these men are responsible for some of the funniest moments in recent film history which is probably why Due Date is drawing inevitable comparisons to Planes, Trains and Automobiles, another odd couple road comedy. For his part, Phillips says they feel the most related to “in an odd way, Rainman.”
“It is a road movie, [but] at its core it’s about Zach’s character having just lost his father and Robert, who’s about to become a father for the first time, and why they needed to meet at this moment,” Phillips offers, in a moment of surprising sincerity.
Asked why the theme of fatherhood was appealing to a Frat Pack director whose films usually centre on men clinging to their faded youth, Phillips replies, “I started making movies about college kids and I tend to grow with my movies, they’re always about my age range. That’s the next step in life; fatherhood. It seemed like an interesting thing to me, both for emotion and comedy.”
Much like Bradley Cooper in The Hangover, when asked about his part, Downey Jr. admits he was sort of playing Phillips, though, he adds, “Every time I feel I really hit critical mass is when the director and I become a third thing and that’s the character. I always feel I’m playing an aspect of the director. It’s a way of making him a proud parent.”
Fittingly, Phillips is quick to lavish praise on his star in response, applauding Downey Jr.’s “producerial brain.”
“He’s basically another writer in the room,” Phillips says. “Not to discredit the writers.”
“No, it’s a great script — which made me hate it even more,” Downey Jr. smirks.
“Yeah, Robert has an aversion to all things typed, I’ve learned,” Phillips replies. “Even if we just rewrote the scene on a napkin, he felt better about it.”
“To be honest, this was the most healing project I’ve ever worked on,” Downey Jr. continues. “I’ve never come up against anyone who is so confident and thoughtful and spontaneous. He’s just in a class by himself. And Todd is the best director I’ve ever worked with, bar none.”
“Did you all get that?” Phillips deadpans.
“And did you get what he said before it?” Galifianakis asks, before turning to Phillips and admitting with a laugh, “You know, I thought he was talking about you the whole time but then he switched over!”