The D Train (2015)

Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor
The head of a high school reunion committee travels to Los Angeles to track down the most popular guy from his graduating class and convince him to go to the reunion.
The D Train offers Jack Black a too-rare opportunity to showcase his range, but its story and characters are too sloppily conceived to hold together as a film.
  • IFC Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 08 May 2015 Released:
  • 01 Sep 2015 DVD Release:
  • $0.7M Box office:

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One of Jack Black's best performances, as well as James Marsden's!9/10
'THE D TRAIN': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Jack Black and James Marsden star in this dark comedy, about a forgotten high school nerd, who attempts to convince the most popular guy from his graduating class to come to their 20-year reunion. The film was written and directed by Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul (in their directorial debut). It also costars Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Russell Posner and Mike White. The movie is hilarious, full of dark twists and also surprisingly insightful!

Dan Landsman is the self appointed head of his high school reunion committee (from the class of 1994). He wasn't popular in school and his fellow alumni members still treat him like crap. After seeing the most popular guy from their class, Oliver Lawless (Marsden), in a Banana Boat TV commercial, he decides to track him down in LA, and convince him to come to their reunion in Pittsburgh; in order to attract more former class members into attending. He makes up several lies, in order to accomplish his mission, including a fake business trip; which gets him into a lot of trouble. This causes complications in his relationships with his boss (Tambor), wife (Hahn) and son (Posner); but he has a great time bonding with Lawless, in the process.

The movie takes a really dark turn, at about the halfway point, which leads to some hilarious laugh out loud moments; throughout the rest of the film. I think it's one of Jack Black's best performances, as well as James Marsden's; who's became a brilliant comedic actor in recent years. The script is clever, and smart, and it's also a great character study; that's brilliantly directed. It's definitely a different movie than I thought I was going to see. It's also got some great 80s style music, and it just feels like a classic comedy film. It's also very relatable, to me; especially since my 20-year high school reunion is coming up (which I don't plan on attending). It's definitely a movie I'll remember!

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A movie worth its character study.10/10
Many may not want to admit this, but "D" Train happens more often than not. This subject matter of a bromance gone to an awkward level is a welcome addition in a time where fluid sexuality is a pervasive theme within todays hot topics. I understood the film and its purpose, and grant kudos to the filmmakers for what they were going for. The film focuses on life's ups and downs of Dan (Jack Black) as he orchestrates a reunion with an old high school popular guy. To his surprise, the encounter turns fun until one night of drunken partying leads to a "moment" neither protagonist is soon to forget.

Unfortunately for Dan, his constantly wanting to repress what happened leads him to deal awkwardly with those who surround him back in his small quiet hometown. On other hand, the film perfectly encapsulates the character of Oliver Lawless, a struggling actor who finds an opportunity to feel what its like to be wanted and adored with attention when his true life is less than what his image portrays.

The scenarios that are taking place in this film are to be given credit and much consideration for they are truly deep seeded issues dealing with mens interaction with one another, masculinity and society's expectations. Oliver's arrival into town for the class reunion only worsens the situation as Dan becomes a walking time bomb. He's got mixed feeling about Oliver and does not know how to deal with it. So he has sudden outbursts of rage and anger as the film progresses into an abrupt final act for both men.

The film succeeds in showing the inner struggles and emotional turmoil many men, Im sure, have endured in similar situations. I feel the filmmaker dealt with the subject matter in a realistic way for these situations tend to be naturally awkward to begin with. To sweep such raw feelings under the carpet can really take its toll if left unattended. I do recommend this film, not for being a comedy, even though some of the awkward moments did elicit a chuckle or two, but because there is depth here and very interesting ideas and themes that the film deals with simultaneously in a very fresh and original way. This may not be the comedy most will be expecting to see, but I suggest you give the film a chance. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
A great film being held down by a mediocre one6/10
Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel's "The D Train" is a far more layered film than its trailers lead one to believe. Beneath the sequences of ribald partying and an explosive Jack Black performance lies tender, more touching ideas of disillusionment, self-delusion, and identity, personal and sexual. Great films have been assembled just from using one of these ideas, and for a film to include all of them in some way shows a large amount of ambition on part of the writing and directing team at work here. However, while being bold enough to try and tackle something larger, "The D Train" tries to have it both ways, creating a raunchy comedy out of material that deserves a more intimate focus and treads almost fatally into the Adam Sandler "anti-character study" formula of belittling its troubled hero.

The film follows Dan Landsman, the self-appointed chairman of his high school's twentieth reunion committee. He is the "do all" man on the job, working as hard as everyone combined, as he appears to relish the days of high school and the memories it left for him. Dan's immediate problem is that nobody, neither the remainder of his committee nor his old classmates, share even a fraction of his enthusiasm, and his constant monopolizing and narcissism fills his peers with contempt. With nobody RSVPing to the reunion, Dan finds one thing that will make them all come and that is the presence of Oliver Lawless (James Marsden).

Oliver was once a popular kid in high school, who went on to pursue his career in acting, predominately in TV commercials. When Dan catches one of Oliver's commercials on TV, he starts an unhealthy obsession with the man, much to the dismay of his wife and fourteen-year-old son. Dan goes as far as to travel to LA with his boss (Jeffrey Tambor), fooling his boss and his wife into thinking it's a business trip, so he can meet and ask Oliver to attend the reunion. Dan and Oliver wind up partying all night before their debauchery makes them question who they really are and want to be.

Dan is played by Jack Black, an actor once committed to the most ridiculous and shallow comedies, who branched out to show his true colors within the last few years. Black is ideal for Dan, a complex character, as his wild, larger-than-life personality and rapidly changing moods are handled with expert realism and genuine talent. Despite having a character that, at times, is incredibly contemptible and somewhat frustrating to watch, Black nails this role, similar to his role as Bernie Tiede in "Bernie," where he took a character and simply ran with it.

Marsden, on the other hand, plays a character where more sophistication and mental stability is assumed. He plays the slick actor, with a cool exterior and a troubled interior, hoping people get so caught up in the former they won't even notice the latter. Black and Marsden make a dynamic duo, and both, particularly Black, transition smoothly between the ribald and the dramatic.

"The D Train," however, examines loftier ideas than I presume anyone going into it ever imagined. The film shows the efforts one will go to continue to fend off feelings of inferiority and disillusionment, along with ideas of sexual revelations, even if that means shunning those you care about the most and becoming so self-absorbed you become uncaring. Dan has ostensibly always been like this, but his behavior worsens over time, and a lot of it is no laughing matter. The problem is, presumably in efforts to make the film attract a wider audience, Paul and Mogel still kind of want you to laugh at this character, even while he's in the mix of an identity crisis. This kind of nonsense is for an Adam Sandler film where the character is irredeemably unlikable; not for a film with such serious ideas behind it.

Furthermore, the film's wobbly tone works against it, sometimes wanting to take on the personality of a raunchy comedy and sometimes straying from it into something more meditative. Again, this makes it seem as if Paul and Mogel don't have enough confidence in their material to make the central focus the deeper, more thoughtful ideas. In efforts to appeal to a more mainstream audience, which I, maybe pessimistically, don't see really happening due to the film's minimal marketing and almost destined obscurity, "The D Train" finds itself squandering its potential, a criminal mistake that hurts an otherwise quietly significant film.
Wow! That was hilarious!7/10
Way beyond my expectations.

Jack black was nothing but hysterical. Honestly could not stop laughing at him.

James Marsden make a fantastic side kick to Black's fantastic performance.

Another great Jack Black movie written by Mike White who also wrote School of Rock.

Black plays the head of his 20 year high school reunion committee who after seeing one of his classmates, Oliver lawless played by Marsden in a national TV commercial, weaves a very tangled web to get the coolest guy in the school to come to the reunion so he can be a hero but his quest turns out a little disastrous.

This movie impressively went places I did not expect and turn out some real funny results that change how I see Bromance movies forever.

This one you got to see.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave7/10
The problem with this film is that by now I'm kind of exhausted, straight up tired of watching Jack Black playing a character who spins so much lies, it becomes a tangled web he's woven situation, tired of watching Jack Black's character claiming to be somebody he's not. It was great in "School Of Rock" but then another round in "Gulliver's Travels" and now this. That said, nobody could do this type of lying better than Jack Black.

THE D TRAIN, from writing/directing team Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel, stars Jack Black as a high school reunion committee self appointed leader named Dan Landsman who the audience could figure out instantly, didn't have a great high school experience. He has trouble trying to get his old classmates to come to the reunion and even his own committee thinks he's a loser. When all of a sudden, he watches a commercial featuring one of his graduating classmates, Oliver Lawless, played by the heartthrob James Marsden. Dan (Jack Black) concocts a plan to go to Los Angeles to convince Oliver (Marsden) to attend their reunion so that he could score cool points with the others. But not ever goes smoothly as planned, Dan comes up with a fake deal to try and get his boss to fund his travel but his boss (Jeffrey Tambor) is so eager and excited about the prospect, he decides to tag along.

Some of us liked our high school experience, but for the majority, people would probably say that they're glad to be out of there, life starts in college after all. Jack Black's character represents anybody who wishes they could press the reboot button on their adolescence. His character is not only insecure but feels like nothing else, not even his own son is as important as his pursuit of coolness among his peers. Whereas James Marsden's character profoundly represents people's misconception about show business. People often associate it with glamor, fame and fortune, and to a certain extent, that may be true, but many of the people traveling to L.A. and try their luck, only end up doing small gigs and waiting tables while waiting for their big break at the same time; a big break that may never happen. So these are two very sad individuals who lie to themselves and lie to the people around them. I have to give kudos to Jack Black and James Marsden because there is one particular sequence that you wouldn't see coming, some of you would probably, but it goes to show how professional Black and Marsden are, what they're willing to do and how far they're willing to go for the sake of the story. And that particular scene sets off a chain of events that lead to the climax and self realization. But again, seeing Jack Black in this type of role, is nothing new, but I guess this is his niche, his field of expertise. Overall, I think THE D TRAIN is a dark comedy that doesn't necessarily slap you in the face and tell you to snap out of it, that it was just high school for heaven's sakes, but it does have its own silly way of unburdening yourself from all the lies.

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