THE D TRAIN
By Gary Murray
Starring Jack Black, James Marsden and Kathryn Hahn
Written and directed by Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul
Running time 97 min
MPAA Rating R (should be NC-17)
Selig Film Rating Forget it!
Going to the high school reunion can be a daunting task. You are stuck in a room with a bunch of people you haven’t seen in 20 years and almost instantly you remember why it has been 20 years since you’ve seen them. You are wasting a fleeting weekend in the middle of your life with people who have becomes strangers and they have become strangers for a good reason. It is the biggest waste and it makes one realize that you can’t go home again. It is this backdrop that comes the (and I’m using this word very loosely) comedy The D Train.
Jack Black plays Dan, the self-appointed head of the 20th year reunion committee in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. We get the idea that Dan is a bit of a control freak down to the point that he won’t let the other members have the Facebook password. He and the other members are having little luck getting everyone on board to attend. One night while watching TV, he notices a commercial and the high school stud Oliver Lawless is the star. Dan has always been envious of Oliver and becomes determined to get him to attend their reunion.
Dan lies to his boss that there is a big client in LA and that he’s about to bag him. This is the first lie that blows-up in Dan’s face because the boss then wants to make the deal himself. The fleet footed Dan dances around his boss while trying to contact Oliver. He finally does and meets the man for a drink. This starts the plunge down the dark hole for the milquetoast Dan in the fast-moving world of LA.
Oliver takes Dan to different bars, regular and strip, where they do massive amounts of booze and lines of cocaine. All this leads to a big twist that had some patrons leave the theater. It is meant to be shocking and provocative. It delivers on both points.
The next morning Dan wakes up and begins to question everything that happened that night. Oliver just shrugs it off but it really bothers Dan. Soon, he’s back in Pittsburgh. But, his boss believes that there is a major deal on the table and expects Dan to deliver. The reunion committee gets wind that Oliver is going to return and expects Dan to deliver. Dan’s wife Stacy (Kathryn Hahn) knows that there is something wrong with her husband but can’t figure out what it is, she just knows he’s not the same man who went to LA.
The film builds to the reunion weekend and Oliver and Dan re-meeting. It becomes the boiling point for Dan and he explodes in the third act. That is when everyone finds out what happened in LA. There is this side story of Dan’s 14 year old son dating an older girl and her wanting to have a three-some. Again, this is another vile aspect of the film that is done for comedic aspect and a failing aspect at that.
The mop-up is the coda to the film and the admitting of Oliver to Dan that he peaked in 11th Grade. We find out that in a way, Oliver admires Dan. That is the only truly honest and sobering moment to The D-Train and it takes away 90 minutes of your life to get there, which is still quicker than most reunions last.
This film is just painfully bad, one of the worst of the year. To begin with, the film just looks ugly. Both LA and Pittsburgh are different and interesting cities, full of vibrancies and colors. Under this production, both are flat and lifeless. There is no feeling of wonder in the production and the world of The D Train is an ugly world.
Speaking of ugly, the characters of The D Train are all ugly, both on the inside and the outside. Both James Marsden and Jack Black are sad, pathetic people, different sides of the same coin. While one may be the class stud and the other the class loser, in the end they are both equally wretched. There should be a degree of sympathy for both men, but in the end, there is none. The only person who rises above the muck is Kathryn Hahn as the wife. But a single breath of sunshine can not pierce through the muck that is The D Train.
All the music in the film is from the 1980s while the film is about the reunion for the class of 1994. Weren’t they all like kindergarteners when that music was popular?
The film is written and directed by Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul and they seem lost in making this film. The film does not work in almost every aspect, not as a black comedy or a regular comedy. Time and time again, jokes fall off the screen before they can make it to the first row of the theater. One has to begin to wonder if they had ever seen a movie before making this one.
Everyone should definitely not take The D Train this weekend and D Train is a perfect name for the film. D is a failing grade and that is definitely what this film deserves—a D!