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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Inherent Vice | Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Joanna Newsom, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph, Hong Chow, Peter McRobbie, Sasha Pieterse | Review

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2 Chicks Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Inherent Vice | Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Joanna Newsom, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph, Hong Chow, Peter McRobbie, Sasha Pieterse | Review

Hey man, this flick is like one long drag…on a joint.  That smoke you see is the haze caused by a cast of characters trying really hard to be all like, wow, man.  And they take 2 ½ hours to do it.  Don’t forget to breathe deeply for the contact high if you can find one in this low-rent detective (sort of) romp that features questionable motives, fashions, and hygiene.

It’s 1970 in polyester-filled Los Angeles, and P.I. Larry “Doc” Sportello (a mutton-chopped Joaquin Phoenix) gets a visit from his ex, a perpetually buzzed chick named Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston) who enlists his help to find her married billionaire boyfriend, Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) whose wife (Serena Scott Thomas) together with her lover, plan to have committed to an asylum because he is Jewish but wants to be a Nazi.  It has nothing to do with him being a billionaire.

From there it’s a wild ride full of cannabis and cunnil…let’s just say that there’s a massage parlor with some girl on girl action, an LAPD detective named Bigfoot Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) who fellates chocolate-covered bananas, a wacky Austin Powers-like dentist Rudy Blatnoyd (Martin Short) and a cast full of far-outs who all think they’re much deeper than they are.

We are as bewildered as Sportello by the events that take place, but at least he’s perpetually high.  What’s our excuse?  Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) working from Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 bestseller, zooms and brakes around multiple storylines that are as convoluted as a conversation with a perpetual pot-head.  

The psychotropic cast of characters have names like Sauncho Similax (Benicio del Toro) narrator Sortilège (Joanna Newsom) Coy (Owen Wilson) Japonica (Sasha Pieterse) Petunia (Maya Rudolph) Jade (Hong Chau) Deputy D.A. Penny (Reese Witherspoon) and Adrian Prussia (Peter McRobbie).  Peter, Paul, and Mary wouldn’t stand a chance in this neighborhood.

How do they all fit into the writhing orgy of a plot?  I’d love to tell ya, man, but it might “harsh my mellow.”  The title, though, can be explained as a maritime insurance term.  It’s not wise to cover fragile cargo (inherent vice) because of its very nature.  Oooh, a metaphor.

With a greasy protagonist that can barely focus, it’s hard to imagine an audience that will, but you might have some fun sucking up the period visuals, kept to a stoner’s level of shabby-to-seedy realism.  It might just summon a long-gone era of communal consciousness, full of irresponsibility and excess.  The problem seems to be that it tries too hard to be weird (and succeeds) leaving frustration and confusion in its wake – no revelation, man, and that’s a bummer.

Brolin and Short provide some laughs, while Phoenix is good for some yucks (as in yuck, take a bath, will ya)?  The whole film seems to have an unsavory coating, and if there were a smell attached, it would be fetid more than floral.

You might want to pass this joint without taking a toke.

 

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