I really loved the trailer to this film. The person that cut the trailer really did their job well, because it made the film look really funny and have a lot of character. It’s not that the trailer lied to us or anything, because it didn’t. Inherent Vice is full of really great characters, and the film indeed has character itself. It just isn’t exactly the character the trailer shows us. It’s considerably more noir than the trailer, actually. That’s not a bad thing, just unexpected.
Inherent Vice follows Larry “Doc” Sportello, a private detective that’s rather fond of the weed, among other drugs. Here in early 1970’s Los Angeles, he is approached by an ex-girlfriend with a job. She suspects her billionaire boyfriend’s wife and her lover may be plotting to get him thrown in to the local mental ward. So, doc takes the job. But then his ex-girlfriend disappears. Now he has to locate her. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just the beginning of a labyrinthine series of cases that all intertwine.
One case leads to locating one person, who needs something, which leads to another person who also needs something, or something done, which somehow all ties back to the original case. It’s not that hard to follow, as long as you pay attention. Don’t get lazy here, folks. For Pete’s sake, don’t let your mind wander. As long as you focus on the conversations, you’ll keep up fine.
There’s a lot of really funny scenes here. So much great interaction between great characters. Joaquin Phoenix as Doc and Josh Brolin as Lt. Det. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen are fantastic and their exchanges are really fun. But frankly, everybody here is great. A hilarious appearance of Martin Short as a coked up dentist is a treat, too.
But Inherent Vice is more noir than I suspected. The humor is spread out over its’ nearly two and a half hour length, and much inbetween is all that talking you have to pay close attention to for fear of missing something important. This is based on a book of the same name by Thomas Pynchon. If you’re worried about getting lost, read the book. Ok, If you’ve listened to our podcast, apparently there was some concern about Inherent Vice being hard to follow. Would a second viewing be worth while? Probably. Some films are just worth that, and maybe this one is because sometimes you miss nuances when you’re concentrating so much on the dialogue.
What are we supposed to do, complain that it was too fucking smart a movie? We bitch enough at CFN about films being too dumbed-down (we’re STILL looking at you, Michael Bay), now you want us to whine about a good film that really only suffers from being a bit complex? Fuck that. We can’t have it both ways! I’m putting my money where my mouth is; Inherent Vice is a smart, funny, complex noir mystery. It’s a bit long, and you need to pay attention. Pretty damn close to four kittenhands, but just shy. Go see it, enjoy it, and maybe even see it twice if you need to. It’s ok.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, not always on board with Paul Thomas Anderson films, but I am with this one.