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MOVIES: The D Train - Review - Sundance 2015

What happens when a bromance goes too far? This is the senario explored in The D Train, an often funny story about obsession, living in the present, and the idea that our worth lies in other’s perceptions.

Dan Landsman, played by Jack Black, is the head of his high school alumni committee and a general loser. In an effort to impress his fellow former students, Dan offers to attract the attention of semi-famous alumnus Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) to try and get a famous face at their 20 year reunion. But when Dan and Oliver finally cross paths, things go off the tracks for Dan’s monotonous existence as he gets swept up in the desire to finally be “one of the cool kids”.

The D Train explores both the idea of boundaries and the importance we place on recognition and fame. Dan strives so hard for goals that others may not see as important or relevant, which fits very well into our society’s current obsession with tweets and likes. It’s also a tale about acceptance, of what “fitting in” really means and what it may cost.

I really enjoyed this film. It’s not your standard Jack Black fare, there is very little manic comedy in The D Train. Jack Black gives a very genuine performance of a person who is grasping at any shred of glory, growing more desperate as the movie unfolds. The laughs come from the absurd and sometimes uncomfortable situations Dan is in. James Marsden also plays his part well, though there isn’t much to his character. Then again, he is playing the quintessential “cool friend” and the story is all about Dan and his drive to be that person.

I laughed a lot while watching The D Train, enjoying Dan’s reactions to each situation he is put in. There is one scene that many are talking about, a sex scene that I won’t spoil, but the interesting thing here is that while other films would treat that coupling as a gag or one off joke and move on, The D Train revolves around it. It was a refreshing change to what I was expecting and I enjoy how the movie handled it.

I also enjoyed how the characters had to deal with the fall out of many of their antics, particularly Dan. Again, this isn’t something the viewer often sees in a comedy, the fact that there are consequences to the silliness on screen. I can’t decide if the ending is a bit cheesy or if it fits just right, but it left me satisfied in the end.

The D Train twists the idea of a buddy comedy in ways I haven’t seen before. It remains light when it could go to a dark place and keeps the laughs up throughout.

Be sure to check out SpoilerTV reporter Tonya Papanikolas's exclusive red carpet interview with the stars of The D Train!

All images are courtesy of the Sundance Institute.

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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