Inherent Vice

Critics Consensus

Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.

74%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 248

52%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,362

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Movie Info

In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky haze of marijuana. One day, Shasta, a former lover, arrives out of the blue to plead for Doc's help; it seems that Shasta's current beau, rich real-estate tycoon Mickey Wolfmann, has a wife who may be plotting to commit him to a mental hospital. When Mickey and Shasta both disappear, Doc navigates a psychedelic world of surfers, stoners and cops to solve the case.

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Critic Reviews for Inherent Vice

All Critics (248) | Top Critics (55) | Fresh (183) | Rotten (65)

Audience Reviews for Inherent Vice

  • Feb 05, 2017
    Wants to be quirky and funny, but is mostly rather boring with a few amusing scenes. The druggy P.I.'s case is confusing and ultimately not particularly satisfying. At least a lot of stars move around in the picture, but even their good performances create very few memorable scenes or a coherent plot. Waterston sticks out with her performance, though.
    Jens S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2015
    It may give off a confusing tone when you watch it, but you're supposed to be as perplexed as Doc is and figure out the case at the same pace he does, and it's very successful in doing that. If you turn away for even a second you may miss something vital, but it's so fast paced and gripping it makes it hard to look away. The stellar cast and PTA's always thoughtful style shine. Don't believe the negativity. Inherent Vice is more than worth viewing at least once and forming your own opinions on it.
    John K Super Reviewer
  • Aug 16, 2015
    Lengthy, convoluted, relentlessly incoherent and yet professionally composed, Inherent Vice is a frustrating film; it refuses to be bad, and yet refuses to let you in its story. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, it has all of his hallmark traits, stylized dialogue, long takes, methodical story building, and an almost surrealist tone. When at his best, his films are mature, enveloping, and leave you felling intelligently tested (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Master). Other times, however, his work becomes almost self-involved, inaccessible, and adrift in its own pretensions (Magnolia). Inherent Vice is, unfortunately, largely an example of the latter. The film has an amazing cast, all of whom bring their best to the table. The mood is pitch perfect for noir, and the dialogue rich with complexity. The script, however, is a meandering mess of an incoherent story. Red herrings populate the screen, leaving no coherent or decipherable plot line to be followed. The characters are fun to watch, certainly, and the scenarios are often humorous, to be sure. There is plenty of intrigue, and the actors are all highly competent, yet Anderson overplays this. If the audience doesn't feel let in, it becomes nearly impossible to empathize, to anticipate, and to enjoy. At first we admire the eccentric nature of the film, but this soon wears thin, with the 2.5 hour run time being keenly felt. Are patience is tested, and eventually, wasted, on a film which seemingly lacks respect for what storytelling should always be. A frustrating, however professional, mess of a film. 2/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2015
    More Incoherent Vice than Inherent Vice in my opinion and whilst I didn't understand much of what was going on I did enjoy certain aspects of it especially Josh Brolin and Joaquin Phoenix's performances. Supreme stoner and all round druggie Doc (Phoenix) is a private investigator in the hippy 70s (I think, might be the 60s) who is visited by an old girlfriend who informs him of a complex plot to abduct her rich property tycoon boyfriend. This plan is being hatched by the tycoon's wife and her boyfriend and things start to get confusing from this point (i.e. the beginning) and this doesn't really change throughout. Throw in an overly aggressive loner cop (Brolin), Docs occasional girlfriend from the D.A. (Reese Wetherspoon) and Docs bonkers lawyer who specialises in Maritime cases (Benicio Del Toro) and you have a bizarre mix. With the exception of Magnolia (admittedly also weird with raining frogs) ive never been a big fan of Paul Thomas Andersons work. Especially the painfully pretentious The Master and ive always felt he is more of a director for the critics than the great unwashed. The cast is great though and once again I didn't mind Owen Wilson in a film. I'm beginning to worry a little about this as he really isn't my cup of tea yet along with this and Grand Budapest Hotel and Midnight In Paris have been films that haven't made me feel like I want to running head-butt my TV. Ill take this as progress.
    Justin F Super Reviewer

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