High-school reunions are a golden opportunity to meet old friends, wax nostalgic and show the popular kids that you're totally not a loser anymore. This is by no means a new trope. The D Train surprisingly finds a new angle on it. But once the film has Jack Black and James Marsden making out, it's not sure where to go.
Dan Landsman (Jack Black) is an alumni committee chairman trying to round up the class of '94 for its 20th reunion. He wasn't popular. He puts on hip airs—using faux slang that would make Diablo Cody blush—but none of the former classmates he calls can remember him. Even the rest of the committee makes fun of him.
But Dan gets an epiphany late one night when he sees a Banana Boat commercial. He's going to bring the star of that commercial, the coolest kid in the class of '94, to the reunion. By roping in Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), Dan is convinced he'll finally earn the acceptance he has craved for 20 years.
So Dan swindles his laughably analog boss (Jeffrey Tambor) into approving a business trip to L.A. to sweet-talk Lawless. And then he fucks him. Or is fucked by him. There's a lot of gray area here, which directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul mine for both rape jokes and a jilted-lover storyline. Either way, it was a mistake. The chain-smoking, coke-snorting Lawless agrees to fly out to the reunion and stay with Dan, his wife and his teenage son in their suburban Pittsburgh home.
To The D Train's credit, it rarely ventures into outright homophobia. Lawless eschews labels like "gay" or "bi." He's just a guy who everyone wants to sleep with and is usually more than willing to oblige. "I could've fucked either of you guys this weekend, but I didn't," Lawless tells some former classmates.
The film is just as lawless. Marsden and Black frequently get fucked up, sneaking off to snort coke. Dan's fake business trip fucks up his business. It fucks up his family: His son's girlfriend tries to finagle a threesome. With so much going on, The D Train can't tie it all together. The ill-fitting '80s soundtrack doesn't help.
Maybe there's no way to pull it off. Instead of trying to make something meaningful out of its mound of plot material, The D Train retreats into the warm embrace of cheap laughs. It's an odd film that mostly exists to show Jack Black make out with James Marsden.
Critic's Grade: C
SEE IT: The D Train is rated R. It opens Friday at Fox Tower, Clackamas, Lloyd Center, Cedar Hills and Bridgeport.