and sometimes poetry

Due Date (2010) | Review by Mark Leidner

Home for the holidays and what better way to ingest Sprite and burnt popcorn than while watching movies that, had someone suggested you see them two months ago, you’d have laughed in their face. Like the townies you once ridiculed, welcoming you into their ranks with open arms, the Due Dates of the world are still at the theaters. Indeed, last night in a hotel in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I found The Book of Eli ten minutes into itself on HBO and couldn’t remember being more relieved that I hadn’t seen something in the theater. Like terminal cancer that turns out to kill you slower than your  oncologist predicts, Due Date similarly exceeds expectations, catapulting the rangeless but somehow still likable Galifianakis and the overrated but lovable Downey Jr. end over end through the rarefied air of “road trip movie” to achieve intermittent comic excellence and sporadic emotional poignancy, but it ain’t no Tommy Boy. The script, equally rote and sloppy, culminates in the birth of Downey Jr.’s healthy baby daughter, but throughout has the feel of a slapstick abortion.

The only reason I saw this was because my brother isn’t here yet, and me and my sister are waiting for him to get here, so we can go see TRON: Legacy together. Due Date has a masturbating dog scene in it. It’s not funny, just sad that whoever wrote it is actually a real person with a real life. “Wrote the masturbating dog scene in Due Date” should go on his tombstone, to compensate me with a chuckle for the fact that the day after he wrote it Hollywood handed him a check for a million dollars.  Movie reviewing is easy because it doesn’t have to make money, or please anyone but the reviewer. So it can tell the truth about things, if the reviewer is into the truth, and I happen to be. When there is no audience for a form, that form can become very magically good. Because it doesn’t have to compromise its principles in order to make a buck. This is what poets  believe anyway. There are no masturbating dogs in our lines, we say. Or, because we are paid nothing by no one to write things no one reads, the masturbating dogs that inevitably do appear must be searing commentaries on the bracing absurdity of the world, and how numb we are to it, and impotent we are to stop it. Our only audience is ourselves. Hollywood targets the void without, poets the void within.  Word is born.

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