Forget the possible Thomas Pynchon cameo. The eyeball pop in Logan Hill‘s Sunday N.Y. Times piece about Paul Thomas Anderson and Inherent Vice (debuting next Saturday at the New York Film Festival) is a quote about tone. For the last few months I’ve been hanging on to a notion (passed along by a filmmaker acquaintance who saw it last April) that Vice would be “Lebowski-esque.” We all know what that means — a certain lazy-stoner vibe, not bright enough, shuffling along, etc. Anderson, however, tells Hill that he’s “going for something akin to Police Squad! and Top Secret!.” He says that “we tried hard to imitate or rip off the Zucker brothers’ style of gags so the film can feel like the book feels….just packed with stuff. And fun.”
Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.
Let me explain something very carefully. Paul Thomas Anderson wanting to emulate the tone of Police Squad! and Top Secret! is like Howard Hawks or Ernst Lubitsch saying they wanted to emulate the comic stylings of Arthur Lubin, director of the Abbott & Costello classics Buck Privates, Hold That Ghost and Keep ‘Em Flying. The concept is completely insane. PTA couldn’t make a ZAZ movie with a gun to his head. Remember also that before anyone saw Drive Nicholas Winding Refn told Cannes journalists at a press conference that it was infused with the spirit of John Hughes…complete bullshit.