The most surprising thing about New York Times’ recent profile of Paul Thomas Anderson, aside from the high sodium in the director’s salt-and-pepper beard, is the reference point he gives for his latest film.
Apparently, Anderson looked to the Zucker brothers’ landmark kitchen-sink comedy Airplane! as an inspiration for how he would fill the screen with jokes in his latest, Inherent Vice. (Anyone remembering how many times they didn’t laugh during films like The Master and There Will Be Blood; no, you’re not remembering that incorrectly.) Now that the first trailer for Vice is online, it’s clear that the film will indeed be more of a romp than anything Anderson has done in the past decade, but one informed by all the refined skills he’s accrued in the interim.
Inherent Vice is adapted from a Thomas Pynchon novel, considered to be among the most accessible works in the author’s famously dense oevre. The book has been compared to the Coen Brothers film, The Big Lebowski, in that they both feature shaggy, often-stoned protagonists shambling through a comedically complicated series of events. The trailer appears to affirm this idea, with Joaquin Phoenix embodying detective Doc Sportello, who struggles to stay up to speed while all manner of weirdness unfolds around him. A stellar cast that includes Benecio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Martin Short, helps spread out the weed-hazy, 1970s-L.A. vibe, while the sheer number of pratfalls and wacky haircuts on hand gives credence to those rumors of forthcoming comedy in this stylized beachside crime saga.
Inherent Vice is in theaters December 12, which is unfortunately 73 days’ worth of not being right now.