Inherent Vice

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Year Released: 2014
Rating: 1.0

Perpetually stoned 'detective' "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) gets dragged into a convoluted mess of a story when former girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) - whom he's still in love with - tells him about a plot in place to commit a real-estate developer (Eric Roberts) to the loony bin ... and this is just the starting gate for a story that cannot stop introducing new situations and characters, all seemingly tacked together by writerly whimsy. I am probably speaking out of line here, but I don't believe Pynchon-as-novelist translates to the screen - his genius is in his use of language and his awe-inspiring expertise in countless subjects (and yes, he's one of the greatest writers of all time ... without question) but somehow on film it becomes this borderline insufferable jumble, with its sole saving grace being Joaquin Phoenix as Sportello: he commits fully to the role and genuinely struggles to comprehend the maelstrom around him - he's a dope, but he means well (and despite all the strange circumstances, manages to sort-of/kind-of get his beloved Shasta back and 'solve' the mystery ... sort-of/kind-of). I think Anderson wanted this to have a Big Lebowski vibe (crossed with a revisit to Boogie Nights-times), but it isn't nearly as timelessly clever. A semi-decent adaptation of Mason & Dixon would be near-impossible.