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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Movie Review- The D Train

James Marsden and Jack Black in The D Train



Introduction

Jack Black has been in movies and TV since the early nineties. The funny thing is, we never really noticed him until his breakout turn in 2000's, High Fidelity. When you go back and watch films like Demolition Man, Dead Man Walking, Waterworld, The Cable Guy, Mars Attacks!, The Jackal, and even a certain episode of The X-Files, you probably pause the screen and go, "Hey, that's Jack Black!". Mostly he's done comedies (Shallow Hal, Nacho Libre, Tropic Thunder) but, I like it when he gets to show off his multi-talented acting abilities (King Kong, The Holiday, Bernie). Similar to how a couple of Will Ferrell's extracurricular films showed his once unknown range possibilities (Stranger Than Fiction, Everything Must Go), Black has shown that he can change it up when needed. I still want to see him in comedic roles however, just please Jack, don't do another Gulliver's Travels film.

The D Train

The D Train, is a nice return to varietal acting for Black. The only problem, is that this film is a mixed bag of good performances, uneven storytelling, funny moments, and an overall waste of time. In a sense, it kind of reminds me of the Johnny Depp film, Mortdecai, from earlier this year; Good acting from the entire main cast, yet a disappointing effort when it's all said and done. Black's character is interesting in his scenes. Picture his 'Bernie' character without the femininity and with way more insecurity. He goes tit-for-tat with his costars James Marsden (Sex Drive), Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers), and Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover). His scenes with Marsden are this film's best moments. Marsden also plays a role much different than his other works. His uninhibited character's motto of non-labels and living in the moment, are a breath of fresh air that seems like a role-reversal opposite to Black's. Hahn as Black's wife, gets a few scenes to level things out but, gets held back like most actresses do in the 'wifey' role. Tambor as Black's boss, is as sincere as he is behind the times. I just wish that the traveling setup with his character near the beginning was done in a less forced way.
What's confusing about The D Train's lasting impression, is that how did it turn out so uneven? The scenes with Black and Marsden in L.A. are hilarious and poignant yet, when they get back to their hometown, only bits & pieces work. When Black gets obsessive about Marsden, it works but it goes overboard. Every encounter that Black has with his high school reunion committee is boring and, could have instead been spent fleshing out the main characters better. One of the most awkward scenes in recent memory, is the confrontation between Black and Marsden at the reunion dance. It could have been even better than it was if the setup to it was just as profound. Instead, moments of important character depth are replaced by a bunch of short snippets that mostly go nowhere.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of The D Train

The Good- An uncomfortable and totally unexpected sex scene, is 'ballsy' in more ways than one. Marsden's sex advice scene with Black's son is very funny. Chair stack!
The Bad- Black's crying scene. I don't know what he was trying to accomplish but, stop it weirdo, just stop it! His face looked like Gollum's after a pepper spray incident.
The Ugly- Black and Marsden making out, is not the most attractive thing to see on a big screen.

Don't waste your time with The D Train in theaters. It has its moments but, you'll leave feeling as incomplete as this movie. Watch it for free on cable for those moments. Maybe Black should just go back to his comedic comfort zone and make a full length Fatties movie? On second thought, never mind.
Rating- 5 out of 10

Running Time- 97 Minutes
Comedy/Drama/Independent

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