The Big Lebowski meets Chinatown: That’s the vibe of reclusive author Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 hippie neo-noir novel Inherent Vice. Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, has taken on the task of adapting Vice for the screen. Judging from this loopy trailer, he nailed it.
Armed with a star-studded cast, Anderson brings to life Pynchon’s pothead private detective Doc Sportello (played by Joaquin Phoenix), who takes on a kidnapping case in 1970s L.A. that leads him down a rabbit hole of corrupt land developers, cultist musicians, amorous dentists, and other Pynchon-esque craziness. The film also stars A-listers Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Owen Wilson. Anderson has been coy in the press about whether Pynchon came out of hiding to star in a cameo in the first film adaptation of his work.
Inherent Vice is premiering this week as the centerpiece of the New York Film Festival and is already being cited as a possible Oscar contender. But never mind all that; if the film is as funny and fast-paced as the trailer, Inherent Vice is destined to be a classic—or at least a cult classic.