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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Movie Review - Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice (2014)
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Joanna Newsom, Jena Malone, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, and Martin Short 
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

What in the hell was in the critics' water when they deemed Inherent Vice worthy of a 73% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes?  Just because a film is directed by an esteemed director doesn't make it worthy of such a ranking.  Just because a film is well acted doesn't make it worthy of such a ranking.  Just because a film looks good and has better than average production values doesn't make it worthy of such a ranking.  A film still has to be enjoyable in a sense that the viewer must remain captivated by any of those aforementioned criteria mentioned or by its story.  Unfortunately, the directing, acting, and production values aren't enough to keep Inherent Vice afloat and, boy, is its story one of the worst and least captivating tales I've seen woven in a film in 2014.

There was talk of the story here being incoherent and frustrating, but I found the general gist of the plot fairly easy to comprehend.  A drug-addled private eye named Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is drafted by his former lover Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston) to determine the seriousness of Shasta's current lover's wife and her lover's desire to put her husband (and, remember, Shasta's current lover) into a loony bin and take all of his money.  It should be noted that if the previous sentence has thrown you for a loop, Inherent Vice probably isn't for you.  Then again, Inherent Vice really isn't for anyone.  The biggest issue with director and screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson's flick is that it takes an already convoluted premise and branches off on so many tangents that admittedly are related, but fail to resonate or prove meaningful in the slightest.  Characters come in for single scenes, drop some other name for Doc to investigate, and then leave and never come back.  This pattern gets repetitive and old rather quickly and makes the nearly 150-minute run time feels like an eternity.

What saves Inherent Vice from the very bottom dregs of the RyMickey Rating system is that fact that the film looks good and contains acting that is certainly above average.  Unfortunately, I still found myself twiddling my thumbs, waiting for this never-ending story to conclude.  Unable to latch on to any of the film's characters or their plights, I found myself adrift here and completely unimpressed.

The RyMickey Rating:  D

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