I walked into Paul Thomas Anderson's latest movie thinking if it's half as good as the trailers have been, it will be GOOD! I've been up and down about his previous work ("Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," "There Will be Blood,") and I'm sure you have been too, so the jury was out. This is set in the 1970s, so part of the fun is recognizing the music, the cars, the language, the makeup and the clothes. Television at that time features Richard Nixon and "Adam 12."
This drug-riddled Byzantine plot requires that you pay attention, listen carefully to the dialogue, tune into the narration, AND suspend disbelief! When you leave the theater, you will discover that no one has the same impression of what they saw or what just happened. In my opinion it's because the central character is chronically stoned.
At one point I found myself clinging to anything that made a particle of sense, but I was out of luck with one exception: The dental business was booming in California during the 1970s because heavy cocaine use destroys teeth!
This is a small part of the huge cast of familiar faces:
- * Joaquin Phoenix ("Her") is a private detective pulled into a bizarre case he would be smart to avoid. Listen to the voiceover in the trailer! Phoenix has a Golden Globes (Best Actor) nomination for this role.
- * Josh Brolin ("Labor Day") plays a socially tone-deaf cop called "Bigfoot," who seems to be in this up to his thick neck. He's bitter because after so many years of service in the LAPD he has been offered NO book deal, and NO television or movie rights!
- * Reese Witherspoon ("Wild") is involved, but it's up to you to figure out how. I think this is the first time Witherspoon has been on screen with Phoenix since "Walk the Line."
- * Owen Wilson ("Grand Budapest Hotel") Is this guy an undercover agent or just screwed up?
- * Jena Malone ("Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1") contacts the detective to find her missing (or maybe dead) saxophone-playing husband. She leads him to the dental office. Now she wants to be a drug counselor to talk teens into sensible drug use.
- * Benicio Del Toro ("Guardians of the Galaxy") is a fast-talking attorney who sees the whole picture, but he specializes in marine law, not murder, consequently he knows "inherent vice" is a maritime term which refers to a cargo that is difficult to insure, like fresh eggs.
- * Katherine Waterston ("Boardwalk Empire") is the ex who asks him for help. I think this relationship still has sparks.
- * Eric Roberts ("Suits") is the (wannabe Nazi) missing millionaire. You'll never guess where he is!
- * Maya Rudolph ("SaturdayNight Live") is the receptionist who seems to know everyone and his history.
- * Michael Kenneth Williams ("Boardwalk Empire") is the fellow who got out of the pen only to discover that his old gang has disappeared. He hires a private investigator to find out why.
Where does it end? That would be telling, wouldn't it? (If I knew.) Paul Thomas Anderson based his screenplay for this 148-minute R-rated (drugs, nudity, sexual situations and language) endurance test on the novel by Thomas Pynchon ("Gravity's Rainbow").
I liked the preview better.....