The D Train Is A Horrible Waste Of Some Legit Comedic Talent.
The D Train.
Director & Writers: Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel.
Actors: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Russell Posner, Mike White and Jeffrey Tambor.
Opens at: Wide.
A boring movie is almost always worst than a bad movie.
But what happens when you get a movie that is both cringe-inducingly bad and filled with boring tropes that you can see coming a mile away? Well, you get a movie like The D Train, which wastes the comedic chops of its very talented cast.
The D Train stars Jack Black as Dan Landsman — but seriously, he could've just been called Suburban Everyman. He's a loser in every aspect of his life, except that, somehow, he's married to the hilarious Kathryn Hahn's Stacey. His job is at dull consulting agency that's fallen on hard times, he constantly ignores his pleading-for-attention son, and he's also the unlikable and uptight “chairman” of his high school's alumni committee. He's so annoying that the volunteers in the committee actively go out to get drinks without him. Pretty much the only person that likes him at all is his boss (Tambor), a man so behind the times that he refuses to use email to speak with his clients.
The premise here? Dan wants to redeem himself, and he figures he can do so by turning his 20th high school reunion into a hit — something he can only really do, he figures, if the most popular guy from school, Olive Lawless (Marsden), decides to come.
Through a needlessly complicated plot device, Dan eventually manages to head out to Los Angeles to talk Oliver to come to the reunion — and, a few nights of partying later, he actually convinces him to come by basically doing everything short of building Oliver a shrine.
You'd assume that, at this point, the movie would begin to explore some deeper themes. Alas, it does not. Instead, Dan just continues to come off as an obsessed creeper with very few redeeming qualities. In turn, the film's second half almost exclusively focuses on a very specific event that happens while Dan is partying with Oliver in L.A. This is a pretty egregious choice, as it keeps the movie from exploring any potential growth in Dan's character after he comes back from L.A. Instead, we just face the same dumb conflicts and inconsequential stakes we do at the film's start.
Perhaps the worst part here, though, is that the movie is trying to pass itself off as a comedy when it's clearly not. The majority of the “humor” is meant to be derived by how awkward Dan is while he's trying to interact with other people. But none of these leaps sticks their landing.
Jack Black's made his fair share of clunkers over the years, but James Marsden deserves a better film than this. As an actor and a character, the guy's been repeatedly given the shaft over the years (see: Enchanted ,
himself working with. The D Train is no exception in this regard; every scene Marsden's in is better for it, and, in a movie that's too concerned with shallow stuff, he brings some interesting depth to his character.
Too bad Dan's our focus, then. In turn, The D Train , much like Dan's insistence in giving himself nicknames (hence the film's title), feels forced as a comedy.
If you want to spend 90 minutes following a very unlikable loser obsessing over stupid things and drawing minimal laughs as he does, then by all means see this film. Or just skip it and creep on some old high school classmates on Facebook. That might be funnier, actually.