Inherent Vice (2014)


release date: 9 January 2015 (Canada)
run time: 148 mins
rated: 18A
considered: Comedy, Crime, Drama
director: Paul Thomas Anderson
starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Joanna Newsom, Jordan Christian Hearn, Jeannie Berlin, Josh Brolin, Eric Roberts, Serena Scott Thomas, Maya Rudolph, Martin Dew, Michael Kenneth Williams, Hong Chau, Shannon Collis, Christopher Allen Nelson, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Benicio Del Toro

movie summary: There are good detectives and then there are bad detectives. Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a horrible stoned out of his mind detective that couldn’t solve a crossword puzzle in the newspaper. At the height of massive drug use in the 1970’s, Doc will bump into an ex girlfriend, Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) who needs his help to find her missing boyfriend. Doc will head on out on a wild chase across the city of Los Angeles armed with a cigarette, joint, and beer to solve the crime.

my thoughts: First things first, I saw this movie six days ago and it still doesn’t make any sense to me. I will never get that 2:29 back and the more time I waste trying to figure it out only takes more seconds off my life. This seems to be the perfect movie to sit at home and roll a few joints in order to enjoy, much like the movie Pineapple Express. I think that either being high or drunk is the only way to understand this movie. It is so over the top, unorganized, and terrible all at the same time. I hate to bash the movie so badly but if someone can actually explain this movie to me (pie charts and slide shows are acceptable) then maybe I could have enjoyed this experience better.

Despite being a horrible movie, Joaquin Phoenix did a fantastic job as Larry “Doc” Sportello. I’m not sure if he was actually clued in the whole time, but he did sell the drug abuse on a level we don’t usually see in a movie. He is a lost soul who is still in love with his ex girlfriend and is so stupid that he can’t help but trip over his own two feet walking down a street. While on his search for Michael Z. Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), he’ll come across a wide variety of people who are just into drugs as much as he is. There are so many scenes where he’ll pause to snort some cocaine, smoke a cigarette, drink a beer, or roll some papers. Underneath all the harmful things he consumes, he has a heart of gold. He cares about Shasta, Michael, and Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson). Most of the people he comes into contact with that actually dislike him because of poor decisions he’s made over the years. Some of those people include Detective Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) and Deputy D.A. Penny Kimball (Reese Witherspoon). The only person who appears to be on his side is his lawyer Sauncho Smilax (Benicio Del Toro).

Josh Brolin is the only main character who shares a lot of scene time with Phoenix. It’s hard to put a finger on whether he is a good or bad cop and if anyone can explain his actions at the end of the movie, by means leave your thoughts in the comments. When he goes off the charts crazy towards the end of the movie, he then shows up at Doc’s apartment to talk. What he proceeds to do is one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen in my life and in a movie. I’m not going to ruin it for you but if you can stomach that then good on you. His character doesn’t abuse drugs but instead abuses his power to get things and is kinda all over the map with his police career. The detective role was tailored made for Brolin who has the strong man appearance and deep voice to leave you hanging wondering if he that is a good cop or bad cop. Owen Wilson is the only other character worth discussing because he is not part of the original problem, only he turns into Doc’s biggest distraction that isn’t a female. Wilson’s Coy character is in deep with the wrong people and is deep in hiding with he crosses paths with Doc. Like I pointed out earlier, Doc’s heart of gold will do everything to help Coy despite the fact he doesn’t even know him. This side story was only written in to show a different side of Doc’s character that only (sounds repetitive) clouds up the story. I feel really bad for this simply amazing cast that also includes Jena Malone, Maya Rudolph, and Michael Kenneth Williams. All three of their minor characters only add to an already crowded and confusing main storyline. Each of their characters need something from Doc, which I guess is supposed to add layers to the story but are just distractions.


my final thoughts: I’m sorry if you had read down this far and are just confused from my review as I am writing it. I would never ever recommend Inherent Vice to anyone, not even to people I didn’t like. It’s such a long complicated mess that focuses more on substance abuse then actually telling a story. Paul Thomas Anderson has directed many other successful movies with talented casts, where his vision for Inherent Vice is just a waste of time and people’s careers.

my star rating: 1 out 10

imdb: 7.3 out 10 
metascore: 81/100 
rottentomatoes: 70% out 100% 
roger ebert: 4 out 4
richard crouse: 3.5 out 5

11 thoughts on “Inherent Vice (2014)

  1. I’m so luke warm when it comes to PTA. He can do no wrong in some people’s eyes. I think he can often be too self-indulgent. Sometimes his movies drive me nuts.

    1. I’m sorry Dan, well sorry to the point that I didn’t enjoy a movie you did. I thought it was good acting but none of it made any sense which totally ruined the whole experience. Then again you hate Armageddon and that’s one of my all-time favs, I think it’s a good trade off. 🙂

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