Box Office Report: “Inherent Vice”

By Jack Heyden

I don’t know what the hell I just saw, but I liked it. 

You know those films that you see and can barely follow because there’s so much going on, but then after straining your mind for an hour, it suddenly hits you? That was me about halfway through this film. 

Ever since I saw “The Master,” I have been a avid follower of Paul Thomas Anderson and everything that he is about. In a fairy tale world where I am George Clooney, PT Anderson is the guy I’m working with next. There is something about the way that the man makes you think that makes his films so memorable. Not to mention, this one is just great fun all around. 

It seems that Anderson has some obsession with Southern California and the 1970s because “Inherent Vice” had “Boogie Nights” written all over it. What I also loved about this film was the way every character seemed to have no clue what they really wanted out of life. Instead of going with a typical film formula where every character has one goal that they are reaching for, we don’t really know what is going to happen next because we don’t know what the characters are trying to make happen. 

Larry “Doc” Sportello, played by the infectiously talented Joaquin Phoenix, seems to be after his ex-girlfriend, but after the ending I’m not sure if she even really existed in the first place, or if anything in the film really existed. 

Now, I’m not saying Sportello woke up at 2 a.m. in a pool of sweat right before the credits rolled, but I will say that Anderson wants to tell us that something about his relationship with his ex, Shasta (played by Katherine Waterson), isn’t quite right. Early on in the film as Sportello is interviewing someone, he sketches down onto a notepad the words, “not hallucinating.” At first, I thought he was directing this at the interviewee, but upon further reflection, I’m pretty positive that the words were directed at his own perception of reality. 

This was further confirmed by the constant flow of absurdities that followed. Another thing Anderson pulled off was a plethora of vibrant characters that kept pouring out of the woodwork, my favorite of which was Sportello’s antithesis and nemesis, “Bigfoot” Bjornson, a no-bullshit cop with a little too much attitude, played by Josh Brolin. 

With appearances from Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Eric Roberts, Martin Short, and Benicio Del Toro, the film became absolutely outlandish in the best way. Trust me, the ending is going to make you question the logic to the whole thing, but I think that is Anderson’s “far out” — he opened up the Pandora’s box of flower child jargon in this flick — way of telling you how he looks at the hippie generation. 

Just like every single PT Anderson film, I know I’m going to have to see this one again. It might not beckon the word “masterpiece” like “There Will Be Blood” did, but it certainly should be remembered as one of his best projects. I’ve waited too long for his next film, and I am beyond content with the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Props to Mr. Anderson and everyone involved. “Inherent Vice” gets my PASS.

My Rating: 9/10

Jack is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].