PTA’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Lookin’ Like Lebowski Meets American Hustle In First Trailer

Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to The Master, Inherent Vice, stars Joaquin Phoenix as a hippie private dick, alongside Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio Del Toro in the first film adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel. Whereas The Master was pretty light on plot (in a good way), “light on plot” is a description that probably has never been applied to a Thomas Pynchon story. Which is another way to say that I find him exhausting (sorry, English teachers).

When P.I. Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend 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 `60s, paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is one of those words going around, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s 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. [Apple]

See what I mean? Still, Paul Thomas Anderson has never done me wrong before, and as Tabrys points out, PTA says he was influenced by the sight gags in Airplane! and Top Secret!, probably the two greatest films ever made with exclamation points in the title. This first Vice trailer makes it look a bit like The Big Lebowski meets American Hustle, with a sprinkle of Omar from The Wire. Yeah, I’d f*ck with that. Opens December 12th.

So, Joaquin, have you given any thought to your Oscar chances in this one?