Inherent Vice movie poster
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Inherent Vice
Inherent Vice movie poster

Inherent Vice Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

I may be a dumbass, but I was lost most of the time while watching Inherent Vice. That doesn't mean I didn't like it. But seriously, I had to read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia multiple times during Paul Thomas Anderson's two-and-a-half hour Big Lebowski wannabe just to follow along.

Fine. I am a dumbass.

Joaquin Phoenix plays a stoner private investigator who is hired by his ex-girlfriend to stop a plot to have her current boyfriend, who is married, admitted to a mental hospital. A bunch of other stuff happens, too, but I'm not quite sure what exactly. A couple people get killed. Phoenix gets high. Josh Brolin acts grumpy. Phoenix attempts to be The Dude.

Nonetheless, under the nuanced, vague and impressively complex storytelling is a well made, extremely well acted crime drama. Graced with a superb soundtrack that sets the tone--somewhere between gritty thriller and drug-infused comedy--Inherent Vice is a quirky, slightly trippy and certainly meandering piece of entertainment. While the movie can be incoherent at times, the screenplay, also written by Anderson, has bursts of perfection, complemented of course by Anderson's direction.

Phoenix is at his best and delivers one of the best performances of the year; Brolin is strong in a supporting role.

All that being said, Inherent Vice is two and a half hours long and most of it is hard to follow. Characters come in and out of the story, and without some help you'll likely forget who is who. As the story progresses and things get more complicated, the movie begins to lose its appeal. By the time the ending rolled around, you probably won't care, and the movie offers you little reason to.

Inherent Vice has many strengths, but even if you aren't a dumbass like me, you'll get lost quickly. It's fun for a while, but only for a while. Better to just stick with The Big Lebowski

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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