Actors keep sitcom-sentimental 'D Train' on track

Comedic turns by James Marsden and Jack Black help keep the 'D Train' comedy on track

A recognizably delusional schlub sits at the center of the loser comedy "The D Train," thanks to the sad-sack acumen of Jack Black.

He plays married yet friendless nine-to-fiver Dan Landsman, convinced he'll earn his high school alumni committee's respect by securing the reunion attendance of former drama department stud Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), now the star of a national commercial.

Writers-directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel tweak the stunted adolescence/bromance comedy template, however, when Dan's trip to L.A. to woo hunky libertine Oliver turns into a drug-fueled bender whose contours won't get spoiled in these pages but which, nevertheless, complicates their mismatch dynamic.

It's the kind of risky plot zag that refreshingly opens up a wealth of emotionally chunky and funny possibilities about desire and camaraderie, but it, unfortunately, gets lost in a deflating, muddled and sitcom-sentimental second half.

Where the story falters, though, the performers admirably hold one's attention. Marsden makes for an amusingly self-absorbed and surprisingly layered satyr opposite Black's desperate, pained everyman, while Jeffrey Tambor is sweetly comical as Dan's computer-illiterate boss, and Kathryn Hahn mines another wife role for unexpected pockets of truth-telling humor.


'The D Train'

MPAA rating: R for strong sexual material, nudity, language, drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Playing: in general release.

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