Private investigator/pothead Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is visited by his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston). Shasta tells Doc about a plot to have her new lover, real estate developer Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), kidnapped and committed to an insane asylum by Mickey’s wife and another of Shasta’s lovers. Doc agrees to help.
While looking for connections that can help him with the case, Doc is implicated in a murder. While Doc is being questioned for the murder and the disappearance of Shasta and Mickey, Detective Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) tries to get Doc to become an informant.
With Bigfoot constantly on his case, Doc takes on another case to help find a missing saxophone player, Coy (Owen Wilson). Little does Doc know that both cases he is working on will cross paths.
If all of that sounds confusing, there is good reason. It is. There are so many stories, sidelines, subplots going on in Inherent Vice that it is difficult to keep track of what is going on and who is who.
Set in the 1970s, the production and costumes are spot on. Everything looks and feels authentic. Joaquin Phoenix looks right at home as the 70’s pothead. He was probably the best possible choice for the role. Josh Brolin as Bigfoot seems fitting, as well. He abuses his power exactly as you would expect. There is a spattering of other very well-known actors, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Eric Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, and Maya Rudolph who round out the cast nicely. Their characters adding unique spins to the whirling story.
Given how the story is told, you would be best served seeing the film in a theater. This way you will be free from distractions that could even momentarily distract you from the action. If you are looking for a fun crime comedy, Inherent Vice is a good choice, if you can keep up with it.