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Review: The D Train

The D Train
05.04.2015
100%
8 10
This was previously reviewed as part of JoBlo.com's Sundance 2015 coverage.

PLOT: Dan (Jack Black) is a small-town guy planning his high school's twentieth anniversary reunion. Wanting to endear himself to his former classmates, he takes a trip to L.A to track down the school's most popular alumni (James Marsden) who he hopes to convince to come to the reunion. The two hit it off, and soon a wild night of partying takes an unexpected turn.

REVIEW: THE D TRAIN is one of those Sundance titles where the less you know about it going in the more you're bound to enjoy it. There's a twist that totally distinguishes THE D TRAIN from being just another Sundance indie comedy and justifies its entry into the U.S Narrative Competition – similar to last year's THE SKELETON TWINS. In many ways, this feels like it could be a companion film to that as they share a similar aesthetic, which is retro-eighties mixed with modern alienation. But the biggest similarity is that it takes popular comic performers and put them in roles that on the surface feels like typecasting, but winds up being a lot more nuanced.

THE D TRAIN is a really strong vehicle for Jack Black, whose manic persona (on film) can grate as much as it entertains, but here is ideally utilized. In it, he's a bored small-town guy who ignores his wife (Kathryn Hahn – solid in a largely dramatic part) and teen-aged son, and dreams of proving to everyone how cool he thinks he can be. Not a huge stretch, but effective. James Marsden also plays to-type as the dreamy popular guy, living the life of a struggling actor in L.A, sleeping with as many people as he can, and reveling in Dan's attention, as he clearly craves the adulation he once took for granted in high school. Naturally, Dan's a willing victim, allowing himself to be impressed by a fake friendship with Dermot Mulroney (a cameo as a douchy version of himself) and getting way carried away on the coke and booze that comes with his new pal's crazy lifestyle.

Up until about midway through, THE D TRAIN is a fairly conventional buddy vehicle for Black and Marsden, but an intriguing twist half way through leads to a really impressive second half, where Marsden turns Black's life upside down back home, that pays off in a really unique, heartfelt way.

It's certainly an impressive debut for co-directors/writers Jarrad Paul & Andrew Mogel. It's slick and well-produced, with a cool visual style, an awesome soundtrack jam-packed with eighties tunes (from OMD to Mr. Mister), and enough skill that the leaps from comedy to dramedy to straight-up drama work well. While it's definitely Black and Marsden's show, Kathryn Hahn and especially Jeffrey Tambor as Black's nice-guy boss ground the film throughout and give it a lot of heart.

With IFC having just picked up THE D TRAIN, chances are audiences will get a chance to see it sooner rather than later, but hopefully the trailers won't spoil the big twist which makes the movie so effective and different. It's a really solid, heartfelt comedy and one that deserves to find a big audience.

Source: JoBlo.com

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10:56AM on 05/05/2015
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9:26AM on 05/05/2015
Black was awesome in Bernie. He may not have the same range or intensity and I may get lambasted for this, but when he does roles of this type and looking at his physical features, body language, facial expressions, etc. he kinda reminds me a bit of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman. And I mean that in the most complimentary way as Hoffman was one of my all time favorites...
Black was awesome in Bernie. He may not have the same range or intensity and I may get lambasted for this, but when he does roles of this type and looking at his physical features, body language, facial expressions, etc. he kinda reminds me a bit of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman. And I mean that in the most complimentary way as Hoffman was one of my all time favorites...
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9:17AM on 05/05/2015

Unfortunately...

... Entertainment Weekly ruined the twist in their Summer Movie Preview. But I will check it out none the less.
... Entertainment Weekly ruined the twist in their Summer Movie Preview. But I will check it out none the less.
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4:56AM on 05/05/2015
glad to know this is so good! I really like Jack and want to see him in more good films
glad to know this is so good! I really like Jack and want to see him in more good films
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3:12PM on 01/26/2015
I like both of these guys and think they haven't really got to show their worth yet. this review has made me intrigued by this film now and will be staying away from any trailers in case of spoilers until I get to see it
I like both of these guys and think they haven't really got to show their worth yet. this review has made me intrigued by this film now and will be staying away from any trailers in case of spoilers until I get to see it
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11:26AM on 01/26/2015
Sounds really good. It's just that after reading these awesome reviews, I wish we had a trailer to go along with them.
Sounds really good. It's just that after reading these awesome reviews, I wish we had a trailer to go along with them.
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11:24AM on 01/26/2015
James Marsden and Jack Black sound like a great comedic duo.
James Marsden and Jack Black sound like a great comedic duo.
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