To be fair, and to offer full disclosure, it’s been a while since my “D Train” experience. I caught the movie back in January during the Sundance Film Festival and it played as a pretty average offering from my lineup.
I’m getting a bit sidetracked here, but I should clarify that I ended up with a pretty bunk itinerary for 2015, so when I say average – I don’t know. It could have been an absolutely terrible movie, but next to Sebastian Silva’s “Nasty Baby” and Patrick Brice’s “The Overnight,” anything looked like Shakespeare.
So this begs the question, am I your most credible critic for the Jack Black, James Marsden comedy? No. But Curtis and John were off doing God knows what back in January, so I’m kind of your best bet on the Flix Junkies ticket.
As far as my from-memory-sum-up goes, Black is on a high school reunion committee which he takes way too seriously. He never quite fit in back in the day, so he feels if he can just make this reunion amazing maybe people will remember him in a different light.
After seeing a late night commercial starring Marsden, Black decides what will really take the reunion up a notch, and thus make him suddenly cool amongst his peers, is securing Marsden’s reunion attendance. Since this is a comedy, Black makes a series of terrible decisions throughout his quest, and then those decisions come back to haunt him which, directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul believe equal comedy gold.
Will you? Not likely.
There are definitely a few funny moments throughout the film, but unfortunately “D Train” becomes more of a dramedy as it moves along, and not an especially compelling one. Substituting meaningful conversations with frank and shocking dialogue works against the story, and by the time the ending roles around, the total lack of point will leave you wishing Paul and Mogel focused more on punch lines than melodrama.
That last paragraph may have sounded a bit harsh, so let’s circle back to what actually worked for “D Train.” First of all, Black and Marsden are a pretty good team, and they both manage to sell their perspective stories. As an aside, I think this is a pretty common setup for both men. They’re both super talented but super terrible at choosing worthwhile projects.
Another thing I really enjoyed from “D Train” was Jeffrey Tambor. His character, unfortunately, was written in an unbelievable way to allow the story to progress, but leave it to Tambor to turn such a character into someone you care about.
Sadly, the story really lets the “D Train” cast down. Outside of the premise which we discussed earlier, there’s some really lazy cleanup at the end to facilitate a happy-ish ending, and the characters never find a balance between relatable realism and quirky comedy cutouts.
In the end, I think that’s the best way to sum-up “D Train.” It’s simply unbalanced. It’s like an after school special about terminal illness that also tries to work in a few laughs. The performances are strong however, and if you do find yourself watching the movie just enjoy it on that level. But this is a Netflix or RedBox feature at best. You’ll probably find that the least amount of effort put into seeing the film will return the maximum amount of viewer satisfaction… or something like that.