On paper, there's not a lot to The D Train. We've seen it all before. A guy lies to go do something he shouldn't be doing, that lie leads to another and things just begin to go awry and horrible. Unfortunately, the film is just as predictable and bad on film as it is on paper - but it still has a lot going for it, nonetheless.

Dan Landsman (Jack Black) isn't - and has never been - popular. His daily routine consists of the same things; going off to his average job and coming home to a boring relationship with his wife (Kathryn Hahn) and his son (Russell Posner). However, when watching TV one night, he comes across a commercial starring the most popular guy from his school, Oliver Lawless (James Marsden). Seeing this as an opportunity to be the hero and become cool, Dan heads out to L.A to try to persuade Lawless to come with him to their high-school reunion. However, the more time he spends with Lawless, the more he begins to regret it and the more things spin out of control.

There's nothing exactly ingenious about the premise. We've seen this story before. On paper, it's nothing spectacular. Writers and directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel's screenplay is about as cliché-ridden and conventional as they come. You can predict the outcome of the final act from about 5 minutes into the first. As far as the writing goes, this is the where the film is hindered most because not only is the premise so basic and uninspired but the characters are your stock, stereotypical idealists. They're all so bland and dull and there's not much development or depth to them, meaning the audience can't emphatise with them or really latch on to them. The dialogue is just as mawkish and doesn't help the case, with the exchanges between our protagonists so tedious and lacklustre. It's almost as if they couldn't be bothered.

However, it's not all bad news as, whilst it's not exactly very entertaining or competent, there are some redeeming qualities in The D Train. The characters may not be the most interesting or likeable but the acting is pretty good. Black and Marsden make a nice team and the chemistry between the pair flows so easily, to the point that you believe their friendship - if never quite their characters. Both actors bring a lot of charisma and energy to what would otherwise a really deadpan film and despite the characters being so bland, the performances make them watchable. It's also always wonderful to see Kathryn Hahn and she makes a nice addition to the cast, if perhaps a little underused.

The direction of the film is also good, as is the cinematography. The L.A nightlife is captured beautifully and the shots are all so slick and simple yet glowing and just nice to look at. It's a funny film too. There's a lot of comedic value to be found in the character interactions or even just their actions for that matter and you'll find yourself chuckling every now and then, if never quite laughing out loud. You'd just sometimes wish there was more humour. Unfortunately though, this is never the case because of the conflicting tones and multiple storylines of the film. Sometimes, it feels as though The D Train is just trying to accomplish too much and so rather than excelling in one aspect, it loses sights on everything and becomes a messy clutter of ideas and potential that becomes too convoluted and frustrating for its own good.

VERDICT:
The D Train is, quite simply, a trainwreck! There's a few good moments and  ideas throughout, however, this predictable, cringe-worthy and tedious film has a lot more wrong with it that it does going for it.
★★☆☆☆

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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