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.



Total Count: 241


Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,262
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Movie Info

"Inherent Vice," is the seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. When private eye Doc Sportello's ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin...well, easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," that's being way too overused - except this one usually leads to trouble. With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists... Part surf noir, part psychedelic romp - all Thomas Pynchon. (C) Warner Bros


Joaquin Phoenix
as Larry "Doc" Sportello
Josh Brolin
as Lt. Det. Christian F. "Bigfoot" Bjornsen
Owen Wilson
as Coy Harlingen
Katherine Waterston
as Shasta Fay Hepworth
Reese Witherspoon
as Deputy D.A. Penny Kimball
Benicio Del Toro
as Sauncho Smilax
Jena Malone
as Hope Harlingen
Maya Rudolph
as Petunia Leeway
Eric Roberts
as Michael Z. Wolfmann
Martin Short
as Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd
Sasha Pieterse
as Japonica Fenway
Joanna Newsom
as Sortilège
Taylor Bonin
as Ensenada Slim
Jeannie Berlin
as Aunt Reet
Serena Scott Thomas
as Sloane Wolfmann
Martin D. Dew
as Dr. Buddy Tubeside
Catherine Haena Kim
as News Reporter
Vivienne Khaledi
as Amethyst Harlingen
Andrew Simpson
as Riggs Warbling
Joe Dioletto
as Cop With Bigfoot
Sam Jaeger
as Agent Flatweed
Timothy C. Simons
as Agent Borderline
Jack Kelly
as Burke Stodger
Jillian Bell
as Chlorinda
The Growlers
as The Boards
Michelle Sinclair
as Clancy Charlock
Alina Gatti
as Howdy Dopers Phone Voice
Elaine Tan
as Xandra
Wilson Bethel
as LAPD Officer #1
Anders Holm
as LAPD Officer #2
Emmet Unverzagt
as Bigfoot's Kid
Osamu Saito
as Japanese Cook
Jefferson Mays
as Dr. Threeply
Martin Donovan
as Crocker Fenway
Jackie Michele Johnson
as Dr. Threeply's Assistant #2
Ralph Wagner
as Kimberly
Keith Jardine
as Puck Beaverton
Delaina Mitchell
as Mrs. Chastity Bjornsen
Michael Cotter
as Rhus Frothingham
Peter McRobbie
as Adrian Prussia
Shannon C. Sullivan
as Adrian Prussia's Secretary
Samantha Lemole
as Golden Fang Mother
Madison Leisle
as Golden Fang Daughter
Liam VanJoosten
as Goldan Fang Son
David Prak
as Buddhist Monk
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News & Interviews for Inherent Vice

Critic Reviews for Inherent Vice

All Critics (241) | Top Critics (52) | Fresh (177) | Rotten (64)

  • If the adaptation's a little too faithful to sustain a cinematically tight story, there's still a lot to admire in the sheer, uninhibited folly of the whole thing, the gall to get groovy while the Oscar-watchers are on high alert.

    Jul 19, 2016 | Full Review…
  • It isn't one film but many, an anthology of expertly recreated genre tropes, from fog-shrouded noir to sunlit paranoia.

    Mar 13, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • I think I need to see it again, again.

    Jan 30, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice provides a rush of pure hallucinogenic pleasure, but its logic is mighty hard to follow.

    Jan 29, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • As rich and strange as we've come to expect from the "late" Anderson films, but doesn't quite achieve the digressive whackadoo majesty of the novel.

    Jan 29, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • A delirious triumph: a stylish-squared meeting of creative minds, a swirl of hypnosis and symbiosis, with Pynchon's prose partly assigned to a narrating character and partly diversified into funky dialogue exchanges.

    Jan 29, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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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