D TRAIN, THE
(director/writer: Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul; cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens; editor: Terel Gibson; music: Andrew Dost; cast: Jack Black (Dan Landsman), James Marsden (Oliver Lawless), Kathryn Hahn (Stacey Landsman), Mike White (Jerry), Kyle Bornheimer (Randy), Henry Zebrowski (Craig), Russell Posner (Zach Landsman), Jeffrey Tambor (Bill Shurmur); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producers Mike White, David Bernad, Jack Black, Priyanka Matto, Ben Latham-Jones, Barnaby Thompson; IFC; 2015)
“A disappointing dark comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A disappointing dark comedy about an unpopular guy in a Pittsburgh high school who attempts to revise his personal history when at middle-age he becomes the organizer for his high school alumni reunion and tries to become popular by bringing to the reunion their most popular classmate. It’s the directorial debut for co-directors and co-writers Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul.
Dan Landsman (Jack Black) is a sad-sack loser, who never had friends. But he now has a good job at a small Pittsburgh consulting firm, a considerate old-fashioned boss (Jeffrey Tambor), a loving wife (Kathryn Hahn) and a sensitive teenage son (Russell Posner). When things get off to a slow start for his 20th-high school reunion, Dan appoints himself chairman. Seeing their popular classmate Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) in a TV sunscreen commercial, Dan cooks up a wicked scheme to bring the LA-based actor to the reunion and thereby impress everyone that he’s become popular with celebrities. To do this Dan fakes a “business trip” to Los Angeles and fools both his boss and his wife that he has a big deal cooking. The fun is supposedly how in LA the self-absorbed Oliver falls for the obese nobody, someone he never knew, and a bromance develops. What transpires in LA. is a big surprise about Oliver’s sexuality and Dan succeeds in bringing the stud back to Pittsburgh for the reunion.
In the end, the film just doesn’t get to where it wants to go. Even though the filmmakers get a leg up on what makes not only Black a loser but the insecure Marsden also one The trouble is when it veers to a serious tone it turns into a mess.
REVIEWED ON 5/9/2016 GRADE: C