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Inherent Vice (2014)

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In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Writers:

Paul Thomas Anderson (written for the screen by), Thomas Pynchon (based on the novel by)
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Popularity
1,194 ( 16)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 93 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joanna Newsom ... Sortilège
Katherine Waterston ... Shasta Fay Hepworth
Joaquin Phoenix ... Larry "Doc" Sportello
Jordan Christian Hearn ... Denis
Taylor Bonin Taylor Bonin ... Ensenada Slim
Jeannie Berlin ... Aunt Reet
Josh Brolin ... Lt. Det. Christian F. "Bigfoot" Bjornsen
Eric Roberts ... Michael Z. Wolfmann
Serena Scott Thomas ... Sloane Wolfmann
Maya Rudolph ... Petunia Leeway
Martin Dew ... Dr. Buddy Tubeside
Michael Kenneth Williams ... Tariq Khalil
Hong Chau ... Jade
Shannon Collis ... Bambi
Christopher Allen Nelson ... Glenn Charlock
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Storyline

During the psychedelic 60s and 70s Larry "Doc" Sportello is surprised by his former girlfriend and her plot for her billionaire boyfriend, his wife, and her boyfriend. A plan for kidnapping gets shaken up by the oddball characters entangled in this groovy kidnapping romp based upon the novel by Thomas Pynchon. Written by bignicknasty97

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Love usually leads to trouble.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

9 January 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vicio propio See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$328,184, 12 December 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,110,975

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,710,975
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Fuelled by comments Josh Brolin gave to the New York Times, rumors persist that notoriously reclusive author Thomas Pynchon made a cameo appearance somewhere in the film, which would be the first time Pynchon has been willingly publicly photographed since the late 1950s. The most common theories are Pynchon appears as one of the following: the patient being served soup by a shaky patient in the Chroskylodon Institute (this is actually an actor named Charley Morgan), a dentist in the scene at Golden Fang Headquarters, or the man who passes by the window behind Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) and Coy (Owen Wilson) as they talk at the Spotted Dick party. See more »

Goofs

I've read that PTA is a big Neil Young fan, and that Doc's look is based on Neil's look from the early 70's, especially the mutton chops. And while the Neil tunes frame their scenes nicely, they should not have playing on Doc's radio and in the Golden Fang lobby. See more »

Quotes

Doc Sportello: [from trailer]
[stumbling at the top of a staircase with his gun]
Doc Sportello: Did I hit you?
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the credits roll, the end caption is the opening inscription from Pynchon's novel, Inherent Vice: "Under the Paving-Stones, the Beach!" - Graffito, Paris, May 1968 See more »

Connections

References Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Rhythm of the Rain
Written by John Gummoe (as John C. Gummoe)
Performed by The Cascades
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Inherent Vice is a rambling drug-fueled odyssey
22 December 2014 | by monkyman347See all my reviews

'Straightforward' is not a word I will use in this review to describe Paul Thomas Anderson's newest film Inherent Vice. Lying somewhere at the crossroads between a '70s neo-noir film and an absurdist stoner comedy, this neon-tinged detective story is two-and-a-half hours of increasingly absurd psychedelic mayhem. It's dense, confusing, chaotic, and absolutely riveting in its amorphous plotting and paranoid atmosphere.

Musician Joanna Newsom plays Sortilège, the film's narrator and our guide through the hazy story of hippie-turned-private-detective Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix). The story starts off simply enough, with Doc hired by his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) to locate her missing lover, but it all quickly spirals out of control into nearly a dozen different sub-plots featuring neo-Nazis, real estate, dentistry and everything in between.

As the first filmmaker to adapt a Thomas Pynchon novel to the screen, there was a great deal of pressure on Paul Thomas Anderson to successfully translate the source novel's complex prose into a relatively understandable film. Pynchon's work is known for featuring dozens upon dozens of characters involved in a variety of loosely connected plot lines, which makes it nearly impossible to faithfully adapt his novels. Of course, anyone who has seen Anderson's epic ensemble drama Magnolia can confirm that the director is more than capable of seamlessly interweaving countless characters and story lines, and in the case of Inherent Vice Anderson truly does an astounding job of packing so much dense material into a feature-length film. Although the plot is hardly comprehensible upon the first viewing, a second or third viewing reveals that, while intensely complex, the story is entirely coherent thanks to Anderson's clever, brilliantly- crafted script.

That comparison to Magnolia may be misleading, however, as Inherent Vice occupies a unique place in Paul Thomas Anderson's filmography. While Anderson has dabbled in comedy in the past, most notably with his dark rom-com Punch-Drunk Love, his humor has always been a cover for the far more deeply rooted melancholy that permeates all his films. While Inherent Vice's humor does take a backseat to the film's central mystery, it's nonetheless far brasher than that of any other PTA film. Anderson himself compared the film's comic timing to that of '80s screwball comedies Airplane! and The Naked Gun, a comparison that is uncharacteristic of his typical style to say the least. While it's surely more a neo-noir than a comedy, the film has more than enough laugh-out-loud moments to make it PTA's funniest movie to date, as well as a unique next step in his evolution as a director.

While Anderson's script does deserve its fair share of credit for the film's absurd humor, what really makes Inherent Vice so funny is the acting, especially that of Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin. Phoenix's portrayal of our perpetually stoned protagonist Doc is universally spot-on; with a wonderfully out-of-it expression frozen on his face, Doc stumbles through the movie dazed and confused in a marijuana-induced haze. The smallest details, such as Doc aggressively slapping himself in the face mid-conversation to focus, are what make his performance so consistently enjoyable. Brolin, meanwhile, steals the show as hippie-hating cop Christian "Bigfoot" Björnsen, who both antagonizes and collaborates with Doc to unravel the film's tangled web of mysteries. Bigfooot's many idiosyncrasies, including the inadvertently suggestive way he eats frozen bananas and his not-quite-mastery of Japanese, make him by far one of the funniest and most colorful characters of the film, and Josh Brolin plays him with just the right mix of hotheadedness and cluelessness.

Despite Inherent Vice's one-of-a-kind style and atmosphere, it's still ultimately not going to work for a whole lot of people. It's virtually impossible to follow the plot the first time around, and its many subplots and manic storytelling style will surely frustrate and alienate many viewers. For those that can tolerate its eccentricities however, it's a rambling drug-fueled odyssey worth taking and, while it may not be his best work, yet another impressive showcase of Paul Thomas Anderson's incredible talent and versatility as a filmmaker.


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