The D Train
Courageous black comedy starring Jack Black and James Marsden
The directorial debut of screenwriters Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul (Yes Man), this engaging and well-acted indie impactfully alters the standard bromance narrative, being as pleasingly unexpected as it is excruciating. In the process, it also provides stars Jack Black and James Marsden with two of the best roles of their careers.
Set in Pittsburgh, The D Train stars Black as thirtysomething consultant Dan Landsman, who's happily married but has never been able to shake the stigma of having been an unpopular teen. Tasked with co-organising his high school reunion, Dan hits upon a genius idea after he spots former school stud Oliver Lawless (Marsden) in a suntan lotion commercial: he'll travel to LA and convince Oliver to attend, thereby guaranteeing that all their former classmates will show up, and that he'll be lauded for his efforts.
Dan's plan hits a snag early on when the fake business trip he concocts sounds so essential that his boss Bill (a typically hilarious Jeffrey Tambor) insists on tagging along. However, that's nothing in comparison to the complications that follow.
Mogel and Paul's witty script cleverly distracts you with escalating layers of traditional farce (having to constantly fool Bill, etc), so that when the film takes its decidedly unexpected direction, it provokes shocked, uncomfortable laughter. The subsequent fall-out is brilliantly acted, with Black conveying a convincing cocktail of confused emotions and Marsden giving his almost-past-it pretty-boy a complex, troubled undercurrent. And the presence of Mike White in a supporting role is no coincidence – he serves as a producer and the film's uneasy edge is reminiscent of Chuck & Buck.
It's fair to say that there's the occasional moment that doesn't quite convince and the film criminally wastes the always-wonderful Kathryn Hahn as Dan's wife but, overall, this is an enjoyably awkward, commendably ambitious black comedy that bravely goes where other bromances dare not reach.
General release from Fri 18 Sep.