In the new comedy “The D Train,” Jack Black plays Dan, an overzealous high school reunion planner who goes to great lengths to reconnect with an old high school friend, Oliver (James Marsden), in order to cajole him into making an appearance at their class reunion. The first feature from directing team Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul follows a pair of deeply flawed, insecure men as they struggle to put on a good show as the popular kids. Through its bumpy roads, this dark comedy keeps it cool with Black and Marsden running the show.
When the International Business Times spoke with “The D Train” directors Mogel and Paul, the pair were eager to explain the title of their movie. “We just tried to think up of the dumbest possible nickname he could come up with for himself that he could feel really passionate about,” said Paul on Black’s character, Dan. Added Mogel, “We liked it from the emotional standpoint that by the end, he doesn’t care what people think of that nickname.”
Mogel and Paul made the feature film leap together, but the two have been collaborating for quite some time. “We just thought of this weird idea that we fell in love with and decided to devote the next three years of our lives to,” joked Paul.
Mogel clarified that the idea dug deeper than just the overenthusiastic high school reunion planner. “Anyone who wasn’t what they wanted to be in high school -- which I think is a lot of people -- would go back and do it over again, you feel like you might get a crack at it with some of these reunions,” he said. “You get to show back up and say, ‘Look at me now!’ How far would somebody go to say that?”
The heart of this dark comedy is undoubtedly Jack Black, the boisterous force of energy commanding the audience’s attention, and at times, its sympathy. “What Jack brings to it is this innate likability, even though the character does some pretty reprehensible s--t,” shared Paul.
“He’s hard not to love,” Mogel chimed in. “It was cool to find the line [where] he could do reprehensible things, but there’s also wanting the character in a movie to get what they set out for.” Paul shared that he and Mogel were fans of movies and TV shows with anti-heroes, like “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos” and channeled some of those ideas into “The D Train.”
“He becomes such a terror!” exclaimed Paul on “Breaking Bad” protagonist Walter White. “How likable does someone have to be?”
Balancing out Dan’s zealous passion for his reunion is the cool reception from James Marsden’s Oliver. “We liked the idea of romanticizing the person who was the coolest person in high school. Dan still thinks this guy has it all,” said Mogel. “When he finds out that [Oliver] doesn’t, what does that do to your perception of everything?”
“The two are very similar. They both are kind of posing, they both are lying and they both don’t have what they say they have,” Mogel mused. The two characters end up helping the other out and work through their fake fronts. “They remind each other what’s so great about themselves.”
“The D Train” is out in theaters May 8.