The D Train Movie Review
The head of the reunion committee must track down the most popular kid in school to convince him to attend their 20 year high school reunion. One might think from this simple description that THE D TRAIN ride is light and humorous. Instead, this bumpy directionless trip is senselessly dark and aggravatingly humorless.
Dan (Jack Black) is the over-zealous, self-appointed leader of the high school reunion committee. Making phone calls, getting hung up on, and being insulted comes with the territory. Wait, is that true, everyone hates the people who ask them to attend their high school reunion? When Dan asks the other committee members if they want to all go out for a beer, they say they’re busy but go out without him. This sort of nonsense continues through the film where all the adults, inexplicably are bullies. The confusing thing is, Dan married a pretty girl from his high school (played by the very funny Katherine Hahn) and has two lovely children as a result. Dan even has a decent job as the star salesman for a small company with an honorable boss who respects him.
Despite all these things going for him, Dan wants to be the cool guy at the reunion, finally earning the respect from all the other losers who have somehow managed to grow up being petty and mean. So Dan lies to his loving family and steals from his good-hearted boss (Jeffrey Tambor) to go on a fake sales call to L.A. in order to find Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), the cool guy then and cool guy now, who is also ironically one of the least judgmental characters in the film. Having appeared in a national commercial, Oliver is living the promiscuous, drug-using Hollywood life of a struggling actor. To get Oliver to the reunion, Dan is willing to do anything… and judging by the fact that Dan cheats on his wife with Oliver, I mean ANYTHING,
In theory, the dark humor has the possibility of being funny. I can see how when explaining the events that transpire in the film, they might sound hysterical. I envision a couple of buddies (writer/directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul) hanging out together while they keep one upping one another with absurdities as they continue to crack up at themselves. Unfortunately, what is funny on paper or among the privacy of a few walls, does not always translate as such visually.
The major problem is the consistency. None of the characters make any sense or seem believable to who they are. Characters are free to be extreme, especially in comedies, but not when a character is contradictory to the world that the film has set them in. While Dan is meant to be a loser, he clearly isn’t or he could never obtained such high success in family and work. One might be able to stretch a very thin line of a commentary about what if adults acted like middle school children, but it doesn’t come close to connecting. As Dan’s son proves, kids are way better than that.
I admit, I laughed a couple of times in the film that works better in short-hand explanations rather than a feature length. James Marsden and Jack Black are very talented actors doing an adequate job with what is expected. However, the material is so cringeworthy that by the time you get to anything remotely funny, one is completely turned-off by these inconsistent, awful characters, who lack a commitment a commitment in depth when being written.
To be clear, I’m not offended by the material because it’s dark, I’m offended by the material because it’s not funny. THE D TRAIN is one letter grade off in its title.