Inherent Vice, the new film based on a novel of the same name by acclaimed writer Thomas Pynchon, is a movie that does not bear watching more than once, if at all. In fact, I found it hard to believe that a project with that much talent (Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, and a host of other good actors) could be so mind-boggingly bad!
The film is about a private eye (I think) played by Joaquin Phoenix who may or may not have ties to the medical community. The character, Doc Sportello, stumbles through a couple of cases without really resolving anything, enjoys the music of the era (the late 1960's), and does more than his fair share of drugs. The movie, much like Doc's drug-addled view of the world, is a mishmash of weird characters, odd criminal vignettes, and psychedelic backdrops. The material may have worked as a novel, but as a movie it is just one long mess.
Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com), was fairly charitable toward this movie, giving it a respectable 68% approval rating on its "tomato meter," and an audience rating of 59 percent. The site opined, "Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does credit to its acclaimed source material." In other words, all hail Thomas Pynchon, but if you're looking for something that makes sense, look elsewhere.
Amazon.com had this to say about the novel, Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynhcon: "Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon - private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era." That snippet adequately sums up the movie as well.
At a time when films have the power to bring about great change in a troubled world, or at least to entertain, Inherent Vice is about as consequential as a stink bomb in a typhoon. Those going to see it anyway should expect the popcorn to be more enjoyable than the movie.