‘The D Train’ runs the horror of a high school reunion right off the rails

(Friom IMDb.com)

(Friom IMDb.com)

“The D Train” is all about how far you’d let yourself go to make up for past horrors.

And what new atrocities you may unleash in your soul and your life when you discover the answer to that question.

Written and directed by Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel, this comedy starring Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor and Russell Posner puts us into the life of Dan Landsman, who’s actually done pretty well for himself 20 years out of a pretty forgettable high school existence in Pittsburgh.

Black plays Landsman as a guy full of nervous energy, false bravado and latent sadness in a room full of high school reunion committee members attempting to whip up phone interest in a gymnasium get-together to relive the old days.

At home, he’s got a curious and smart 14-year-old son and beautiful wife harried by the birth of their second baby. At work, he’s got a boss who adores his smarts but won’t get with it enough to update the ancient computer system. Hahn is swell as his mostly tolerent wife, Posner is terrific as his mostly hopeful son, and Tambor is much more than his stereotypical goof as his overwhelmed boss.

Black makes it more than a comedy, too. He seriously takes Dan Landsman into questionable ground in an attempt to use this reunion to make him into something he never was 20 years ago. Popular.

One night while watching late night TV, he sees the former popular guy on a national TV commercial. His mental wheels spin so fast that before you know it, he’s not only hatched a plan to bring pretty and rough Oliver Lawless back from LA, he’s promised everybody on the committee that it’ll work and he’s told several whoppers to book a work trip to make it happen.

One think in LA leads to another, and, lo and behold, his plan works even better than he’d ever thought. There was the end of that wicked party night, though, when that idle comment that Oliver had dropped to him about his TV fame allowing him entree with women and men became reality. Dan wakes up in Oliver’s bed.

Frankly, I could have lived forever without the graphic nature of his flashback, this being a comedy and all.

From that moment on, Dan tries to forget about it and can’t. In fact, he dwells on it. Oliver seems to not care at all, making Dan somehow feel even worse. And all of the lies pile higher and higher. Dan’s discomfort grows, Oliver looks more and more like a creep, and innocent people are ripped open raw. Wait a minute, maybe this isn’t a comedy after all. I had stopped laughing long ago.

Lessons are learned, though, that’s for sure. The hard way. Painfully. That’s for sure. Not that it’s a bad thing. Just be prepared.

Do you think graphic sex scenes have their place as a statement in the middle of a comedy? What crowd did you consider yourself part of in high school? Have you gone to a high school reunion, and if so, how did it go?

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45 thoughts on “‘The D Train’ runs the horror of a high school reunion right off the rails

  1. Hey, Breakfast Club shifted gears too and is a classic. It can be done.
    I remember Something Wild too with Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels. The final reel, I recall, got graphically violent. That one didn’t work so much. So I guess it depends.

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    • I agree that shifting gears can and does work, Ross. In fact, I will still watch ‘Something Wild’ if I stumble upon it on cable, so I guess rooting for Jeff Daniels to payback on Ray Liotta made that violence sit OK with me. I am not part of ‘The Breakfast Club’ club, however. Tastes are so dang individual. Without giving too much away about this one, my biggest gripe is that the funny and the serious were too mismatched.

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  2. i loved romy and michelle’s high school reunion, and i’m not adverse to a change-up, but judging by your review, this one just doesn’t work. went to a reunion a few years back and it was pretty fun, though not a huge fan of them. may go this year because it is a big one )

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  3. My family and I moved between my junior and senior year of high school. I always felt like the outsider, not belonging to any particular crowd. I have been to reunions from both schools and have enjoyed both. Even people I didn’t know that well are very interesting now, providing they were telling the truth. As for sex scenes? They don’t need to be graphic in any movie in my opinion. It’s wasted film, and should be left up to the viewers imagination. I think a good storyline will lead us to understand the relationships between people, we don’t have to be reminded with graphic sex. Ha! Do I sound like a prude?

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    • You don’t sound like a prude, April, just a prudent movie-goer. In my book, anyway.

      I’m glad you enjoyed both of your school’s reunions. Thanks for stopping in and commenting today. Have a fine Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting review. I haven’t seen this movie but I wonder–and correct me at any time–might the the story require the ‘comedy’ to offset the flashback? Your answer to another comment is the funny and the serious are mismatched. Hmm. I wonder why the comedy to begin with then. 😮

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    • I read an interview with the writer/directors, who said they never intended the movie to become a commentary on social issues. To me, however, it became just that, with the two main characters each evaluating life and decisions to different degrees. I actually found it worthy this way. Just not dressed up in comedy clothing. I wonder why they are so vehement about it otherwise.

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  5. He’s been evasive on the talk show circuit. “If you lark dark and mysterious and strange, you’ll like this.” I don’t think I could take the graphic scenes. You can’t unsee that stuff. Well, it sure doesn’t sound like a plot that’s been done before.

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    • It dances somewhat seriously with a social issue that’s never approached in this way and genre, Kerbey. But almost as if the writer/directors went through and exhausting should we/shouldn’t we and then they just halfway wanted to deal with it and left other elements in, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the heads-up, Mark. I hate when a movie does the old switcharoo and I have no idea it’s coming. When I wanna watch a comedy, I want to watch a comedy. don’t suddenly make me think about crap when I don’t wanna think about crap!

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  7. Wow, it actually sounds fascinating and I was questioning it’s label as a comedy almost immediately. I got teased a lot in junior high because I liked rock music. In high school the kids were a bit more accepting as they got older but I was so over it by then. Didn’t go to prom, graduation and a reunion definitely wouldn’t be in the cards.

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  8. I have gone to many class reunions, Mark. I chose to skip the 40th, strange as it sounds. I was not able to connect with someone to meet before the riverboat dinner cruise so didn’t want to pay money without anyone definitely to sit with. My friends were from many groups but band, Science Club and drama were my main sources of connections. My senior year I was the Yearbook Index Editor. All the photos for the year were dumped from the photographer’s prints to my parents’ dining room table. I was the ‘nerd’ that wrote the catchy things and identified all the people in the photos. I had tons of people drop by to help out, along with two brothers who enjoyed helping me choose the photos. In the front somewhere there is a staircase which is empty, like before school starting. Then at the end, there was a photo with my artistic brother, Randy, sitting reading a book, sitting on the bottom stair. I did not direct the photos but was amazed how many times I really knew the people our of over 300 in each class, that I DID know! Smiles.
    As far as the film, I am one who doesn’t mind discomfort, I am not sure if I will see this, maybe put it on the library list when It comes out on DVD next year. I usually fast forward some scenes but the three Swedish edition of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and Hornet’s Nest…. were very graphic. I felt the violence in “12 Years a Slave” was necessary, too.) I did not like the crassness of the movie, “Neighbors.” It was just gross!

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  9. I didn’t really belong to a crowd. I kind of talked to anyone who talked to me. I was a regular joe so to speak.

    Regarding the sex scene…..I suppose if it’s crucial to the movie….uhm….okay. but if it”s just tossed in there for whatever reason. Not sure this is adding up….

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  10. I don’t mind graphic sex so long as the sex is essential to understanding the film. Sometimes the intensity, the lack of passion or even brutality is crucial to the plot. It certainly tells you things about characters that dialogue cannot. Bit of a reveal.
    I can’t say I always enjoy it.

    I hate reunions, with prejudice, as I have never attended one. From the five classmates I’m connected to on social media, I’d say that they think Facebook is one giant reunion and they’re trying to recruit me! lol I think I’d be tempted to go to a college dorm reunion tho 🙂

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    • I get your point about somethings being shown better than said, Joey. I’m surely not “blanket” against any one thing, either. This instance just didn’t go over with me.

      Hey, you college dorm must have been a fun place. Start the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great review Mark, interesting characters but some weird names among the actors.
    Think I will take a rain check on this one mate, been to one reunion, might as well have been held in a bloody nursing home.
    Cheers.

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