Thursday, May 7, 2015

The D Train - 2 1/2 stars

Dan Landsman (Jack Black) is the self-proclaimed chairman of his high school’s alumni committee.  He takes his job very seriously, and we get the impression that the rest of the committee doesn’t like him very much.  When they go out for a drink after a meeting, they don’t invite him.  They’re working on planning their 20th reunion and they’re not having much luck getting people to RSVP. 

But one night, Dan sees a Banana Boat commercial.  The actor in the commercial is Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), the most popular guy in their graduating class.  Dan decides to make it his life’s mission to recruit Oliver to come to the reunion.  He figures if Oliver says he’s coming, the rest of the class will follow suit. 

This is a pretty interesting role for Jack Black to play.  Dan has a wife, two kids and a good job, but he doesn’t really have any friends.  And he tries really hard to get Oliver to like him - so hard that it gets awkward and uncomfortable to watch.  First he calls Oliver, who barely remembers him.  Then Dan flies to Hollywood to hang out with Oliver, and I won’t spoil what happens, but it messes up Dan’s head quite a bit.

As good as Jack Black is in this movie, James Marsden is even better.  He does a great job of playing the cool guy and it’s easy to see why everyone in the movie wants to be his friend.  But the best performance in the movie comes from the great Jeffrey Tambor.  He plays Dan’s boss, and I just love the way he’s a total luddite when it comes to the internet and cell phones.  Dan lies to his boss early on and spends the rest of the movie trying to cover it up.  His boss doesn’t trust the internet as it is, so it’s easy for Dan to evade every one of his boss’s questions by invoking Google or something like that. 

So why am I only giving this 2 ½ stars?  This was a tough call, but I really didn’t enjoy the movie very much.  Even though it’s an interesting story and the performances are good, I was just so uncomfortable watching Dan be so pathetic and annoying around Oliver.  It gets to the point where he yells at his wife and son for daring to talk while Oliver is telling a story.  I like awkward humor sometimes – most of Ricky Gervais’s best stuff is cringe humor – but this movie wasn’t funny enough to make up for it.  I really felt bad for Dan and wished someone would just take him aside and knock some sense into him.  So it’s a close call but I’m not recommending the movie. 

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