Due Date

Setting up for a tracking shot.

We visited Santa Fe, N.M. in October 2009, a rare fall vacation and our first trip to the Southwest. We were shopping in the Plaza when we saw crews setting up for some kind of filming; the first activity we saw was some guys carefully building some rails for a dolly. Being from St. Louis, where almost nothing gets filmed (with one notable recent exception), the whole process was fascinating for me. As the preparations continued, I was able to chat with one of the extras — he informed me that they were filming a movie titled Due Date, with Robert Downey Jr. Sounds like some kind of romantic comedy, but cool just the same, I thought.

In between shoots outside the "Coffee Beanery."

As the afternoon wore on, the preparations intensified, seemingly centered around a restaurant on a street just off the Plaza. There was a strange, mud-covered SUV that drove by a couple of times; after a while, we realized that it was part of the movie. Finally, it was time to shoot the scene. After hours of preparation, it turned out what they were shooting was Downey and his sidekick driving around a corner, parking the truck and walking into the restaurant. As I remember, they  shot the whole scene first a few times, and then broke it down into segments: driving (this is what the dolly shot was for), turning the corner and parking; and getting out and walking in together, the latter with exaggerated gesticulations on both of their parts. There was an amazing amount of equipment and personnel used just to create this relatively small piece of action. The restaurant, for example, was actually some kind of burrito place, I think, but for the movie, it was converted into the “Coffee Beanery.”

Cropped view of Galifianakis and Downey.

I was standing off at a safe distance, but I could still see pretty well what was going on. A crew member was telling the crowd not to take pictures — it would somehow be a violation of intellectual property. I still managed to grab a few photos between shoots during the course of the afternoon.

Last week the finished movie was released. Saturday night we went to see it. I was looking forward to it; although that day in Santa Fe, I didn’t know who Zach Galifianakis — the sidekick —  was, we later saw the movie The Hangover and loved it. And Due Date was from the same director, so it promised to be pretty funny–and NOT a romantic comedy.

Well, it was something of a disappointment. There were undeniably some funny scenes in it, but on the whole it was rather disjointed and a little contrived. Not a waste of money, but certainly not up to the standard of The Hangover. And most disappointing of all, the scene we saw them put a whole afternoon’s worth of effort into was nowhere to be seen in the movie. Without giving anything away, we had heard that the scene was actually supposed to be in Scottsdale, Ariz., but in the movie, Downey and Galifianakis completely bypassed Scottsdale, without a mention. “Our” scene apparently landed on the cutting room floor. Oh well, I guess we can wait for the Director’s Cut.


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