What does it say about our culture and society that we all seemingly automatically identify with the story of someone like Dan Landsman (Jack Black) — a quintessential high school loser and member of the invisible forgotten class — especially as he nears his 20th high school reunion and dares to dream up a scheme to seize the moment for himself? A chance viewing of a national commercial featuring his high school classmate Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) offers Dan the opportunity he’s been waiting for.
Setting up a series of quickly escalating lies, Dan bounces his way to Los Angeles in order to convince Oliver to come back for the reunion, without realizing that Oliver is just as frustrated with his own life situation as Dan is. Filmmakers Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul (screenwriters on the Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man) take the helm of The D Train and endeavor to poke holes in the thin-skinned balloon of perceived success and the efforts of those seeking a second chance to make a first impression. The real winner here is Black, a performer who seems to be enjoying a mid-career bump, toning down the broad crass humor recently in movies like Bernie and The Big Year, focusing instead on breathing life and laughs into everyday characters who take audiences on more meaningful rides. (R) Grade: B-