A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
During the psychedelic 60s and 70s Larry "Doc" Sportello is surprised by his former girlfriend and her plot for her billionaire boyfriend, his wife, and her boyfriend. A plan for kidnapping gets shaken up by the oddball characters entangled in this groovy kidnapping romp based upon the novel by Thomas Pynchon. Written by
In the same café scene with Doc and Bigfoot, Doc takes a drag off of a cigarette and clearly stubs it out in the ashtray with his right hand. Bigfoot then tells him to pick a card, which he does. Doc looks at the "card", taking a deep drag off another cigarette with his left hand. There was no time in between cuts for Doc to have lit another cigarette. See more »
To watch actors dryly deliver page after page of plot that no one comprehends or is interested in while they imitate the acting style of old Hollywood noir films and stoner comedies is not why I go to the movies. Paul Thomas Anderson is a great filmmaker when he uses his own voice, and thankfully this film is the only exception to that.
Unless you're a superhuman, you won't have the memory (or attention span) to understand the plot. It's as if it's deliberately convoluted, like Anderson doesn't want us to know what's going on, or at least doesn't want us to care. Yet this is not the case because of the scenes that dwell on nothing else but dialogue whose only purpose is to read plot to us and maybe put us to sleep.
There isn't any character beyond caricature. I don't relate to this Doc character beyond the his relationship with his ex-girlfriend which is the only thing that one can possibly invest emotion into, albeit this is not an emotionally driven story. The characters are supposed to be funny but I just found them bizarre.
That being said, there is something about the overall tone and production design of the film that sticks. The meandering nature of the era is there and while we've seen many similar films about the 70s this film is just different. It's ambitious in the way that it's so plain but also strange, only many will have a hard time deciphering between art and bullshit. It's bullshit to me because there wasn't anything for me to take from the film. It was more "this is kind of weird" but to no end.
I would not recommend this film to anyone unless you are a cinephile, in which case you just have to see it because it's Paul Thomas Anderson. I feel bad for anyone who naively walks into this film looking for something to enjoy and laugh at. Parts got laughs but they were widely dispersed in a film that just felt like it wouldn't end. Being the fan of Anderson's that I am I feel like this film was a waste of time. Even if you end up liking it (which I personally would not understand) you'll see what I mean.
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