Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul‘s The D Train (IFC Films, 5.8) “is by far the darkest and nerviest laugher I’ve seen in ages,” I wrote on 1.24. “It begins as a not-too-funny situation comedy about a neurotic, high-strung suburban family man (Jack Black) who goes to great fraudulent lengths to travel to Los Angeles to lure a former high-school classmate who’s now a more-or-less-failed Hollywood actor (James Marsden) to a 20th anniversary high-school reunion. What I didn’t expect to see was a detour into Brokeback Mountain territory by way of a Lars von Trier film.
“But at the same time, as I mentioned during the post-screening q & a, The D Train follows the classic structure known as the Three D’s — desire, deception and discovery.
“I can’t call The D Train howlingly funny — nobody could — but it’s brave and different and much darker than what most of us would expect when we sit down with a comedy. You can call it ‘comedic’ and that’s fine, but it’s really a kind of laugh-sprinkled Middle American psychodrama about denial, suppression, self-loathing and the traumatic process of change. And yet it ends on a note of comfort and completion.
“And Marsden manages his most charismatic, naturalistic and altogether winning performance, recalling on one level the ghost of Warren Beatty‘s tragic George Roundy in Shampoo and on another level personifying a form of failure and self-loathing and yet mitigated by self-acceptance and resignation, which is to say style and grace…a certain wilting of the spirit.” — from 1.24.15 post called “Sundance Doesn’t Care if You’ve Overslept.”