Due Date & Inside Job
 
            “Due Date” is the “road movie” that takes a lot of left turns.  It’s one of those “Odd Couple” arrangements, where Robert Downey, Jr., plays the uptight, wound-up, fussbudget, and Zach Galifianakis plays the free spirit---ditzy, discombobulated, disheveled---and somehow they wind up in a car together, traveling across the country.
Robert promised his wife he’d arrive home in L.A. by the due date for their first child, and Steve, well, he has this vague idea of making it as an actor in Hollywood .
            They have plenty of misadventures, all right, but somehow they forgot to make the characters charming.  Robert is mean-spirited, arrogant, and patronizing, and of course we see him make progress, at least in his initial reaction to Frank, but at the end he’s still not exactly warm and fuzzy, despite being wounded and vulnerable.  Frank is just a mess, and he remains so: irresponsible, immature, inappropriate----and this hardly changes, it just somehow becomes more tolerable as we begin to understand him.
            There’s a lot of comedy about drug usage, which will not be amusing to many.  There’s some slapstick, some gross-out scatological stuff, but they forgot fun.  It’s just never happy.  And in trying to endure their cross-country odyssey, neither are we.
            “Inside Job” is never happy, either.  This feels like a double episode of “60 Minutes.”  We’re examining how we got in the financial mess we’re in, as a country, and how that had a ripple effect on the global economy.  We all pretty much know the story by now----the economists, paid large consultant fees by the banking and mortgage and firms, successfully lobbied the politicians to deregulate the investment industry.  So firms like Lehman Brothers amassed huge amounts of “sub-prime” mortgages, unsecured loans with little or no collateral, insured by AIG, itself compromised by its own leveraging.  The “players” made enormous amounts of money, then escaped with their personal fortunes while many trusting but naïve consumers drowned in debt under the financial tsunami.  And the people on the Federal Reserve Board, or Administration officials, or others who might have alerted us to the impending crisis were themselves participants in its making.
            So we watch our intrepid off-camera interviewer try to nail some of the participants, but they’re too slick, of course, to admit any real wrongdoing, so at the end we have….changed nothing.  Though the interviewers are kinder and gentler than some of the angry confrontationalists, we still have a mess, nobody wants to take responsibility for causing it, and duh, people are still greedy and will grab the money and run when they have an opportunity to do so.  No big revelation there.
            Both “Due Date” and “Inside Job” try to plow some old ground in an interesting new way, but both wind up being about as interesting as….a conversation with an egghead evasive economist.  Who wants to see that?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas