Complete A-Z list

D Train, The


Stars: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Russell Posner, Mike White, Han Soto, Dermot Mulroney

Director: Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul

Here's a departure for Jack Black and no mistake. The chubby, sawn-off star of gross-out comedy stuff also co-produced this bold venture (quite a grown-up film for the star to make at this stage of his career), which casts him as Dan, who runs a struggling PR film with his elderly boss (Tambor) and at the same time is trying to organise a 20-years-on class reunion in which only he seems to see himself as head of the committee.

At home, he and his wife (Hahn) have a 14-year-old son (Posner) and a months-old baby.

Seeing charismatic ex-classmate Oliver Lawless (Marsden) as the hunky star of a TV ad, Dan sees an opportunity to boost his popularity and attendance at the reunion at the same time by getting Oliver to turn up.

Concocting as story about clinching a deal in LA with a CEO called Drazen, Dan's style is somewhat cramped when his boss unexpectedly decides to accompany him to California.

In LA, Dan embarks on a wild night with the bisexual Oliver that results in them having sex together, an experience Dan can't get out of his mind, especially after Oliver agrees to pose as Drazen to get Dan out of a jam.

There's a lot of truth in this racy narrative; Marsden aces a role reminiscent of that played by Ryan Reynolds in Adventureland, and Black gets a chance to demonstrate a wider range than he's previously been able to show. We share his awkwardnesses, embarrassments and frustrations, as Oliver charms everyone in sight and Dan cuts an increasingly forlorn and churned-up figure on the sidelines as the reunion approaches, thinking about a gay relationship in which Oliver has absolutely no interest, and acting like a discarded lover, which, of course, he is.

It's a very perceptive and at times painful film - unfairly dismissed by internet bloggers who have gone along expecting a raucous comedy - with good support from Hahn, but a limp turn from Posner as Dan's son, who looks nothing remotely like him.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Sony (Stage 6/Ealing Studios). Colour by FotoKem.
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 14 Sep 2015