Based on Thomas Pynchon's twisty-turny, marijuana-hazed 2009 novel, "Inherent Vice" has been described as next to impossible to adapt into an accurate feature-length representation of the author's notoriously dense writing. If any filmmaker working today could possibly crack this riddle, it would seem to be Paul Thomas Anderson, an auteur specializing in multilayered euphoria who proved with 1997's "Boogie Nights," 1999's "Magnolia," and 2002's "Punch-Drunk Love" that he knows his way around the Californian landscape. This assumption would be dismayingly incorrect. Were it not for his name in the credits, it would be impossible to guess that someone who has helmed so many vividly stimulating works of art could be responsible for something so bewilderingly lifeless. The deceptively complex plot strands woven together have led some viewers to claim it is difficult to understand, but the real issue is that there is nothing that needs understanding. The central thrust of the story, in which private eye Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) sets out across 1970 Los Angeles to track down missing powerhouse real estate developer Michael Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) and Larry's former girlfriend, Shasta (Katherine Waterston), leads to a lot of dead ends and revelations so unexceptional they feel like bad jokes without punchlines.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review