If there is a point to this woefully unfunny, outright galling feint at a dramedy, I can’t find it. I mean, it cannot possibly be that the way for a man to regain his mojo — or to find it in the first place, if he seems to have never had any — is to spin a complicated web of deceit that involves lying and cheating and trashing the few important relationships in his life? Can it? Jack Black (Goosebumps, Sex Tape) is the same-old hapless schmoe he always plays, but his Dan Landsman isn’t a supposedly lovable loser this time, and he’s not unlikable in a dramatically or comedically interesting way, either; he’s just an all-around terrible person. When he spots old classmate Oliver Lawless (James Marsden: The Loft, Welcome to Me) in a TV commercial, he hits upon the idea that getting Oliver to the 20th high-school reunion he is helping to plan will make the party a success… so he fakes a business deal in order to get his boss (Jeffrey Tambor: The Hangover Part III, Paul) — who runs what appears to be a generic Business Office that does Business — to pay for a ticket from their Pittsburgh base to Los Angeles so that he can find Oliver. Purposeless random shenanigans ensue, mostly revolving around Dan being starstruck at Oliver’s glamour and party-hearty L.A. lifestyle.
Every time filmmakers Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel — who previously wrote the awful Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man and here make their directorial debut, from their own script — approach a moment that could be about to mold an actual story out of the then-this-happened, then-that-happened plot, they kick that can down the road a bit, as if, perhaps, someone else might take up that mantle and deal with the problem. No one ever does. Eventually everyone onscreen will agree that Dan is a revolting and thoughtless excuse for a human being, but this will not stop The D Train from bringing Dan to the triumphant conclusion that he is nevertheless an okay guy, and that his humdrum life is actually amazing. Because, you will be unsurprised to hear, since you are smarter than Dan and figured this out about 10 minutes into the movie, Oliver isn’t the success Dan thinks he is. Only Dan is dumb enough to think one appearance in a TV commercial counts as “making it” as an actor in Hollywood. Yet learning this simple, obvious truth will “teach” Dan the “lesson” that his life is pretty grand after all.
Ordinary schlubs like Dan don’t get that message — You Are Awesome, Dude! — often enough from The Movies. And so The D Train exists. Such times we live in.