This isn’t a film I would normally watch. I’m not a fan of film noir be it from the 30s or from the 21st century, but this one piqued my interest. I had been seeing the previews On Demand for a while, but I normally mute commercials and previews now when I’m in the middle of watching something. I’ve just hit my tolerance level when it comes to advertising, but this one particular day while I was perusing a few On Demand channels I un-muted the volume and got a whiff of this Inherent Vice flick purely by accident. Oh, it’s a comedy?! I thought. Hmmm, looks funny enough. Yup, that’s pretty much what got me from there to here.
I’m not particular a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson either. Not because I think he’s a terrible filmmaker or anything, it’s just he doesn’t make movies I normally watch. Though I have seen his Boogie Nights (1997) and that’s only because I wanted to see naked chicks.
This particular one, Inherent Vice, was an odd little ditty, punctuated with a very hot full frontal seduction scene by Katherine Waterston and one scene of violence where Joaquin Phoenix beats an Aryan Nation thug to death with what I thought was part of a toilet, injects him with a lethal dose of heroin and then shoots another dude to death moments later. In his defense these were the bad guys and pretty much deserved what they got, but those two scenes were standouts in an otherwise stylized flick that’s all very particular dialogue-ridden and a dark comedy.
The plot? Bear with me because this is one of those mysteries that gets heavily layered until you lose track or who’s connected to who and how it all traces back to the mystery unfolding. These kinds of movies always make me wonder if I’m “inherently slow,” or something, but I guess if there is something not right in my head it’s better to discover that with a flick like this than, say, Troll 2 (1990)? Better for the ego, I mean.
Anyway, Phoenix plays private dick, Larry “Doc” Sportello, who in the opening is visited by ex-girlfriend, Shasta Fey Hepworth (Waterston), who’s in dire straits, more so than usual. She’s got herself mixed up with a real estate tycoon by the name of Michael Z. Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) and his wife, Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas). Apparently she and this wife and the boyfriend of the wife are scheming to steal Wolfmann’s dough and put him in an asylum. I was never quite sure though what she wanted Doc to do, but anyhow he starts looking into the matter and this when the story becomes far too layered for my limited mind to follow. In fragments I can explain it…. Doc is framed for a murder he didn’t commit by a Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin). I always got the feeling these two had once been friends but now Bigfoot hates him, he’s a very A-type personality; Benicio De Toro shows up in a small role as Doc’s lawyer; the case leads to heroin dealers who bring in their merchandise on a boat called, The Golden Fang. This boat gets implicated in Shasta’s disappearance, yeah, we learn she loves to ride with a tough crowd, has even been screwing a white supremacist with a big swastika on his cheek who wears a tie with her naked body embroidered on it. Martin Short then suddenly comes out of nowhere playing a dentist whose part of a league of dentists called, The Golden Fang. Is there a connection? The fuck if I know. There might have been. He loves to screw underage chicks and his secretary. Owen Wilson is a snitch who’s had enough of being a snitch and shows up in the oddest places. He gets a happy ending though.
Brolin takes an assload of heroin from the Fang and frames Doc for it.
Jenny Malone has a small role as a heroin addict. She’s got new teeth and hideous pictures of her heroin addicted baby who got that way through her breast milk. Doc’s reaction to this photo is out of place hilarious.
I forgot to mention a friend of Doc’s named, Sortilège (Joanna Newsom), is narrating it all. Loved the casting on this one, but Martin Short? In this type of flick? I’m still scratching my head on that one, even though he gives a very good performance.
An excellent movie, but a one-time watch for me. I understand it’s based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon. No, I’ve never read the novel, but if you’ve stayed with the review this far you probably already knew that.
On April 28th Warner Brothers releases Inherent Vice in a DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy and a separate DVD/Digital Copy editions.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen high definition—English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,French 5.1 Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1: Dolby Digital—English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
As for extras…
- Los Paranoias
- Shasta Fay
- The Golden Fang
- Everything in this Dream
Most of these extras are simply extended trailers, some of them with footage not included in the movie.