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Looneymanthegreat's Movie Reviews (125)

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Inherent Vice 
Borderline Nonsensical
2.5/4 stars

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best, if not one of the absolute best, directors working today. He has directed some of my personal favorite movies (like Punch Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood,) as well as some of the more interesting films to come out of modern cinema (like Hard Eight and The Master.) In summary: I think I could be called a straight-up Thomas Anderson fan-boy, and I am in no way ashamed of that.

Yet, alas; even I, who am likely to squeal girlishly when Andersonís name appears in the opening credits of a flick, am having a hard time finding ways to defend his latest release, Inherent Vice. It is a movie that I legitimately want to like, but am having a horrible time doing so.

Inherent Vice has all of the trademarks of modern T. Anderson. It has a crazy cast of characters, a setting from another time period with its own vibe, and a soundtrack filled with era classics and Johnny Greenwoods excellent score. The characters are quirky, and performed in an equally quirky measure. These are things I loved about Anderson movies like Boogie Nights, so why donít they work here?

In interviews it has been mentioned that Anderson was inspired to make this flick after seeing the classic Hawks-Bogart flick, The Big Sleep; and in a way he succeeded to get that movies vibe. The Big Sleep is infamous for being hard to follow, but is incredibly entertaining regardless; and Inherent Vice certainly gets the ďhard to followĒ part of that equation. The movie unfortunately just isnít that entertaining to watch, and falters because of it.

Inherent Vice, at its core, is an art-house stoner-comedy; much like The Big Lebowski before it. It is confusing, abstract and bizarre (though perhaps not bizarre enough,) but Anderson does not seem to get why those kind of movies work in the first place. Inherent Vice drudges through its meandering, borderline nonsensical plot like itís a dark serious Anderson drama; but thatís not what this movie is.

There is a reason that Harold and Kumar go to White Castle is less that ninety minutes long, a movie like this needs to have a certain energy to it to keep the audience invested. Inherent Vice is just too slow and too long. When the movie is funny, itís really really funny; but you often have to wait twenty minutes for each punch-line.

The movies big problem is that it thinks itís a fast paced comedy, but it was kept at the two and a half hour length for no good reason. If the filmmakers would have been willing to edit this thing down to a solid hundred minute funfair, then it might have worked really well. As it is, Inherent Vice is a great comedy hiding inside a bloated, pretentious shell.

If youíre a hardcore Paul Thomas Anderson fan like me, this is a must see; but if you just want to see a good movie, then there are more pressing tickets to purchase.


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