Inherent Vice

6.62 h 28 min2015X-RayR
An inept, pot-smoking private detective delves into the dark corners of 1970s Los Angeles to find an ex-girlfriend who has gone missing.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Joaquin PhoenixJosh BrolinOwen Wilson
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Katherine WaterstonReese WitherspoonBenicio Del ToroMartin ShortJoanna Newsom
Paul Thomas AndersonJoAnne SellarDaniel Lupi
Warner Bros.
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Smokingsubstance usealcohol usenudityfoul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.1 out of 5 stars

2538 global ratings

  1. 58% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 13% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

TommyReviewed in the United States on January 29, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
A divisive, yet brilliant film that definitely requires multiple viewings.
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After reading so many one star reviews for Inherent Vice, I felt I needed to add a four star review to balance things out a bit.
First of all, this is a very slow paced, odd film that requires some patience and a little bit of loyalty from the viewer. I totally understand why some people would hate this movie, but it's truly one of a kind and very funny if you like quirky characters, drug humor and the California beach lifestyle of 1970.
A pot smoking hippie detective is hired by his ex girlfriend to find a missing person. Along the way he encounters crooked cops, Neo-Nazis, a friendly prostitute, a coked-out dentist, a sexy district attorney, surfers, gangsters and other assorted oddballs.
Think of Inherent Vice like a 1970 version of The Wizard Of Oz surrounded by a cloud of pot smoke and you just might have a good time. If you compare this movie to The Big Lebowski (it's nothing like Lebowski btw) you will be sorely disappointed. It took me a third viewing to finally love Inherent Vice. Josh Brolin is absolutely hilarious as the angry, bitter cop who would much rather be an actor than a detective, and Joaquin Phoenix slips into his hippie investigator role like a well worn pair of sandals. Inherent Vice gets better with every viewing, unlike 90% of the superhero and action films I see every year that get worse after every viewing. Shasta forever! xoxo
23 people found this helpful
Jon WatersReviewed in the United States on July 22, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Before Inherent Vice, There Was Oedipa Maas in 'The Crying of Lot 49'
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In 1963, before Pynchon's Inherent Vice and 'Doc' Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's faithful film version), there was Oedipa Maas in Pynchon's 'The Crying of Lot 49.' Both Doc and Oedipa are investigating strange goings-on in Southern California, and both have developed a well-deserved paranoia about the corruption and violence they are discovering, such as neo-Nazi thugs, unsolved murders, corrupt cops, and powerful real-estate developers who got rich turning SoCal deserts into vast tracts of houses and strip malls. Oedipa really just wants to figure out what is happening to her marriage (to 'Mucho' Maas, a DJ for an underground radio channel in the Bay Area, who is chasing after his young female fans), but an earlier short affair in Mazatlán with Pierce Inverarity, the developer - who just wanted her for sex, sound familiar? - turns into a state-wide investigation when Pierce walks into the ocean one evening and never returns, having named Oedipa as the Executor of his vast estate, and Oedipa soon discovers secret links between some odd engineers at the SoCal Yoyodyne (think Rocketdyne) complex and a 16th Century private postal service with a violent past and a suspicious present (their symbol is a muted bugle horn). Oedipa never does solve the mystery of the private post and its sinister connections with the Yoyodyne group, but she finds something in herself, something beyond her Grad School training in 17th-century English literature, that allows her to soldier on and figure out just enough about these mysterious events to overcome (somewhat) her fear of the nameless dread that pervades her (and everyone else in SoCal's) existence.

There's a dread pervading the 1970 SoCal beach culture, too, part of it's the never-ending Vietnam War and the vicious culture war against the youth movement being waged for political purposes by Nixon and his conservative base, and part of it's fear of having your door broken down for smoking pot by Lt. 'Bigfoot' Bjornsen (Josh Brolin); but living at La Playa (the beach) in West LA, Doc and his hip friends get dragged into the murky, scary world of Golden Fang drug dealers and corrupt cops and their hired assassins when Doc is approached by former girlfriend Shasta Fay (the lovely Katherine Waterston) to solve the mystery of the sudden disappearance of her billionaire boyfriend, who Doc eventually finds out has been sequestered by the FBI at a fancy rehab clinic because he was planning to give away free housing to atone for what he now sees was his excessive greed - that must mean he's crazy, right?

With a little help from his friends, Doc solves the mystery of what happened to Shasta Fay's billionaire boyfriend 'Mickey' Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), and narrowly escapes the harsh consequences of messing with the Golden Fang's product. In an ironic twist to the ending, Shasta Fay returns to Doc's arms, but this is the free-love 1970's in SoCal, so with a sly grin she tells Doc "this doesn't mean we're back together"; - but of course they are back together, and all will turn out fine so long as each of them stays true to their hip creed and avoids the corrupting lure of money and greed.
21 people found this helpful
Maria PageReviewed in the United States on July 30, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
An amazing neo-noir with comedy and crime. One of my all time faves.
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The movie is based off the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. Pynchon is an amazing writer but it takes someone with more smarts to get his work. This is one of my favorite movies. It’s a neo-noir with atmosphere. Doc Sportello, a small time P.I. with big connections is home when his ex girlfriend shows up with a problem that her current lover who is a real estate big shot is in trouble because his wife is trying to commit him to a loony bin to make off with his fortune. Doc navigates the world of heroin cartels making money with the product and the medical work that comes with getting clean, Nazis, crazy corrupt police all the while trying to find his ex gf who has now gone missing with her real estate bf. It’s a fun ride that is long but doesn’t overstay his welcome. A lot of people don’t like it because it’s not all wrapped up in a bow and figured out. You have to watch it more than once to get it all and you will love it the more you watch it.
11 people found this helpful
The Wanderer of AkronReviewed in the United States on September 21, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Come for Joaquin, stay for Joaquin
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The idea of Joaquin Phoenix playing a stoned private detective in the 70s is, to me, a fantastic idea on paper. He is amazing in the role as Doc. You see him fully flesh out this character as being whimsical, hedonistic, and possessing clarity only when it suits him. The story is all over the place and the supporting cast tends to be forgotten for a while. If the movie's goal was to make you feel like you were watching it through Doc's eyes, it succeeded, because I could not get invested in anyone else for very long and would often lose track of the plot as it seemed to change out of nowhere. It felt unfulfilling and empty at the end. It was beautifully shot and there were entertaining sequences and great acting performances all around (Josh Brolin and Martin Short deserve special mention) but it felt like it was going everywhere and nowhere, not unlike the highs Doc had been riding throughout the runtime. It's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but less rewatchable, though I'm glad I did it once. If you figure this movie out, let me know. I figured out the Matrix trilogy and Mulholland Drive, yet this stumped me. Really only watch if you love Joaquin Phoenix.
5 people found this helpful
Damaged by DubReviewed in the United States on November 28, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
One you watch again
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I love this film. I'll admit, it can be a little confusing, and may seem a bit long, but it's a damn good encapsulation of the Thomas Pynchon novel, and is a damn fun ride.

It's based on Thomas Pynchons writing, so it's not going to be easy, or fit into your typical niche, but the dark humor, fantastic acting, and intrigue, should keep you interested.

For me, it's a pretty perfect film. It's grown to be a favorite. I suggest viewing at least twice before passing judgment on what I consider a instant cult classic.
2 people found this helpful
Sifo DyasReviewed in the United States on January 7, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Time Capsule of Truth
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If you lived any part of your life in the 70s you’ll love how beautiful this movie looks. The attention to detail was like a real life flashback. The way dialogue is shot, the way Brolin and Phoenix portray their characters—so perfectly matches the style of the era. Don’t try and focus on the narrative too much—it all wraps up in the end enough to reconstitute something resembling a simple
detective noir conspiracy drama. The quality acting and visuals were enough for my personal enjoyment.
2 people found this helpful
Brandon L. HouserReviewed in the United States on April 9, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
What Was 1st A 2 Star Movie To Me Is Now A 4 Star Movie
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I want to start this review off by saying I am a big P.T. Anderson fan. Always look forward to his films. Inherent Vice is a definite departure for him, and I must confess, the first time I saw this film, I was incredibly let down. I found it long, confusing, and sadly boring. But a funny thing happened after that first viewing. The things I liked about the film (the lost dreaminess especially) just kept coming back into my mind. It got to the point where I made myself watch it again, and now, I'm seeing a great film where 1 viewing is just not going to do it justice. I mentioned the dreaminess of the film already, and the film also gives the viewer laces of dark humor, drama, a melancholy, and ambiguity most films lack anymore (I'm wondering how much of this film is really happening, and how much is in Doc's stoned mind). If you like that kind of film, this may be for you. If you don't, you may want to watch something else. If you are one of the ones like myself that was disappointed, yet felt the film calling you back, watch it again.
29 people found this helpful
CrankReviewed in the United States on October 12, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A solid if somewhat middling film.
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Inherent Vice no doubt divides a lot of reviewers. Some will be completely turned off by its lazy plotting. I read the novel beforehand in many shorter bouts, and the film does it justice. The problem is that the book wavers and meanders a lot, and this can get quite boring at times. The plotline just doesn't have that much pull to it for some its time, and this is probably Pynchon's biggest vice as a writer throughout his career.

Sometimes his writing just isn't that attractive. When he's on you get wonderful sentences full of detail and high-tier intelligence. When he's off you lose track of the actual plotline and characters become cold and murky. And that happens quite a bit here.

But the best things about the film are the same as the book. Cool sets, a nice surfer vibe from California is a time somewhat forgotten now, and a lot of talk about music and culture. Performances carry the load here, much like Boogie Nights, and for that alone it's definitely worth a watch. It's high-quality acting and direction all the way through. If you are someone with a short attention span, you might as well not even bother.

In the end it's definitely a lesser P.T. Anderson film. But even a lesser one is worth watching. I think the film is a very good realization of a Pynchon novel, something that many would never have thought possible until his more linear writing in the last decade. Definitely recommend to film fans.
One person found this helpful
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