The D Train takes the cinematic trend of the “bromance” to a new, strange, and intriguing place, and then fails to do anything new, strange, or intriguing with it. It’s the kind of movie that only would have worked if it were done real indie style (ie without Jack Black and James Marsden) or if we lived in a parallel universe with a more sexually open-minded American public.
Black plays Dan Landsman, a disgrace to Dans everywhere who’s leading the committee on his high school’s 20-year reunion. Despite being married to Kathryn Hahn and having a very stable home life, Dan is dissatisfied with his lot. For some reason (motivations in this movie are quite slapdash) he’s poured all his hope for personal fulfillment into making the reunion a success. To that end, he believes that the clincher would be getting coolest-guy-in-school Oliver Lawless (Marsden) to show up. Oliver has become a big-time Hollywood star (not really — he’s in a Banana Boat commercial), so Dan jets off to LA on a fake business trip to recruit him.
After initial standoffishness, Oliver submits to hanging out with Dan, and as the drugs and booze flow in, the two gradually bond. Eventually, they’re thick as thieves, and Oliver agrees to come to the reunion. Then they fuck. After that, The D Train is a prolonged study in-
Hmm, what? Why are you looking at me like that?
Oh, yes, you read that correctly. Jack Black and James Marsden fuck in this movie.
Nah, it’s not that explicit. They make out a little before it fades to black. There’s a brief flashback cut to a closeup of Black’s face as he is being sodomized. Nothing terribly transgressive.
So anyway, yeah, The D Train chugs along the track to the logical extreme of “no homo” guy affection. Which, let’s face it, is often way homo, because movies are uncomfortable with male intimacy and often turn dude closeness super erotic (to say nothing of boisterious guy activities that are already closer to homoeroticism than the participants are willing to acknowledge).
The casually bi Oliver thinks nothing of the encounter, while Dan is thrown into utter crisis over it. It’s far less that he cheated on his wife than it is “Oh man does this make me GAY?!” Not that such is ever said, but that’s the core of his turmoil. Much of the rest of the movie is Dan acting like a jealous jilted lover towards Oliver once he’s come back to their hometown for the reunion. Oliver represents everything he wants in life (mostly coolness), and he can’t process this as something like a crush.
Because this is mainstream film, this plotline doesn’t lead to a “hey, sexuality is a continuum, guy, relax” lesson. Rather, Oliver ends up reassuring Dan that he’s really the one who’s got it all together. He has the family, the steady job, and the nice home. Be content with what you have. Don’t be more. Don’t ever wonder if the American Dream might be an illusion. There’s not really anything in The D Train that actually affirms that Dan won’t be back to bemoaning a lack of excitement in his life within a year or so of the ending, save for the fact that it tells us he’s fine now, for sure.
Is it funny? Meh. Is it skillfully made? No. Is it well-written? Nuh-uh. There’s a weird plot tumor that Tetsuos out of control, having to do with Dan’s escalating lie over the BS business he concocted to go to LA. None of it serves much other than to fill in running time and make Dan even more of a generically unlikeable douche than he already is.
In short: Jack Black and James Marsden do butt stuff offscreen. Nothing else of interest happens.