When listing influences for "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 detective novel, Paul Thomas Anderson drops genre staples that don't come as much of a surprise: "The Long Goodbye," "Kiss Me Deadly," "The Big Sleep" — on-screen mystery fiction done right. But his tonal reference points turn any conjured vision of the movie on its head. “‘Police Squad!’ and ‘Top Secret!’ are what I clued into,” Anderson told the New York Times in a recent profile. “We tried hard to imitate or rip off the Zucker brothers’ style of gags so the film can feel like the book feels: just packed with stuff. And fun.”
Is mutton-chopped Joaquin Phoenix the heir to Leslie Nielsen's throne? The idea sounds sublime, even as it dampens the "Inherent Vice" awards potential. The Academy isn't the silliest bunch.