Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie Review: "Inherent Vice" (2014)

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Movie"Inherent Vice"
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 28 minutes

Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a hippie, a pothead, and a private investigator. One night, his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) shows up at his house asking for help. She tells him that her current lover, real estate mogul Michael "Micky" Wolfman (Eric Roberts) is in trouble, as Mrs. Wolfman (Serena Scott Thomas) and her lover are working on a scheme to take control of his assets. Doc agrees to look into it and soon after, Shasta and Wolfman disappear as a myriad of characters start to take Doc deeper and deeper into the shady business of Michael Wolfman and his ties to the government, as well as a strange company named the Golden Fang. Doc and the police don't always see eye to eye, but he may need the help of an old frenemy, Lt. Det Christian "Big Foot" Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), who has a habit of harassing Doc from time to time, if he hopes to find what he's looking for. 

What a bizarrely wonderful movie! We're still not entirely sure if we realize and understand all of the events that took place during "Inherent Vice" even a week later, but we loved it either way. The story itself has a lot going on and is all over the place from the beginning of the movie to the end of it, but that story has a definite direction with where it's attempting to go. This aimless wandering approach may alienate a lot of potential viewers, though. People who hate cohesion and stories that tie up 100% of each and every plot point and mystery that is introduced will be endlessly frustrated and annoyed with the premise of this movie, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's erratic direction style here. We think that's why we enjoyed it as much as we did because it was so different and so messy than what we're used to watching. Along with this bizarre style of storytelling, the acting is superb all the way around. Joaquin Phoenix, sporting mutton chops and long hair, is just as crazy-brilliant as ever, only this time, he's both a hippie pothead and a private investigator. Do these two things mix? Well, here they definitely do, and our enjoyment of this movie is mainly because of Phoenix and his antics. Josh Brolin also does a stand-up job at Big Foot Bjornsen, an abuser of his authority as a cop with a penchant for messing up Doc's day, sometimes more than once. There is a lot of weirdly dark and offbeat humor in this film, and if you're not quick enough, you might miss it. This movie will definitely be like "The Big Lebowski," a film you need to watch over and over again to appreciate and to get the true nuance of its humor and brevity. This banter isn't just between Doc and Big Foot, though their dynamic and their quipping back and forth makes this movie worth seeing on its own. Cameos by Martin Short, Eric Roberts, Benicio Del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Reese Witherspoon, and Jena Malone round out a tremendous cast.

In the end, though we knew we were impressed with what we had just witnessed, we couldn't help but scratch our heads and say "what the hell??" The interactions, dialogues, and humor between characters are stellar and strange at the same time. "Inherent Vice" is a visually cool film that captures the 70's extremely well in a neo-noir style complete with a voice-over and unique dressing style.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 69%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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