The D Train is an unfunny, unlikable, unfathomably bad movie. When it was over I sat in stunned silence. I felt a little anger, having wasted 97 minutes of my life watching it. I felt sad for the actors, talented as they are and undone by such horrid material. But most of all I felt gross because I couldn’t get the image of Jack Black having anal sex out of my head.
That’s right: James Marsden gives it to him good. It’s supposed to be funny that an otherwise straight male would sleep with a sexually ambiguous would-be actor in order to get attention, but it most definitely is not. Infidelity is infidelity regardless of who the sexual indiscretion is with; for a so-called “comedy” to make it a homosexual indiscretion is foolish and poorly conceived, especially because none of it is played for laughs. It’s an odd “out there” moment for a film that never works on any level.
Black plays Dan, a total loser. His wife Stacey (Kathryn Hahn) loves him, and his son Zach (Russell Posner) seems to respect him, but other than that Dan literally has no friends. Worse, he has no values. Dignity. Integrity. Sense of self-worth. Zero self-esteem. He’s the kind of guy you don’t have to feel bad about kicking when he’s down because he wouldn’t get up anyway.
We don’t dislike him because he’s a loser, mind you. We dislike him because he’s impossible to root for, an individual so pathetic that he’ll do anything just for a modicum of acceptance. If someone doesn’t have self-respect, why would a viewer show him respect and want his life to turn out well? Dan even discourages Zach from dating a girl who clearly likes him, all because Dan thinks the girl is playing a trick on Zach. Some will see this as a protective father, but it feels more like a victim who selfishly doesn’t want his son to be better liked than his father is. Clearly, Dan is a terrible dad as well.
Conveniently, downtrodden Dan is leading the committee for his high school’s 20-year reunion. Thinking people will finally like him after all these years if he can get the most popular kid in school to come, Dan lies to his boss (Jeffrey Tambor) about a potential client in Los Angeles and flies there on the company dime. Dan is really only going to get cool-kid-turned-actor Oliver (Marsden) to come to the reunion.
The premise alone is horribly flawed. Writer/directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul set the film in the present, so there is no way Dan wouldn’t have Googled Oliver to see what else he’s done besides a Banana Boat commercial. If Dan did this obvious task he would have seen Oliver has little to show for himself and isn’t cool or successful at all. But Dan is a spineless moron.
Why Oliver agrees to hang out with Dan in L.A. isn’t clear, but happily married conservative family man Dan spends a weekend of drinking, drugs, lap dances, and other debaucheries with Oliver. Dan even calls poor Stacey at 4 a.m. to ask her to look at the Facebook picture he just posted. Then the kicker: Dan and Oliver have sex. Neither man is gay, but it happens. It “I can’t un-see this no matter how hard I try” happens. The next morning, Oliver still doesn’t commit to going to the reunion.
How do you root for a main character who has so little self-respect?
You can’t. So when Dan returns to Pittsburgh and his job and personal life are in turmoil, you don’t care. All you can think about is how awful Dan and Oliver are, and how they oddly deserve one another for being so useless to society.
Better yet, don’t think about The D Train at all. It’s probably best for everyone to pretend this movie doesn’t exist.