I had been hearing about this movie for a few months now on different podcasts and interviews. I'm also a big John C. Reily fan, who is just one big name in this movie. Along with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and others.
A three hour movie is a hard thing to watch with a short attention span, but this movie flew by. What's so cool about this movie is all of the separate story lines that eventually interweave throughout this one day. It is basically based around two old men at the end of their lives, and their legacy of people they've influenced negatively over time.
For example, an estranged misogynistic son (Tom Cruise) runs a seminar for men who want to get lots of women. And the old man's caretaker (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) tries to get a hold of him so he can see his dying father (Jason Robards). And his junkie wife's downward spiral (Julianne Moore). If this makes any sense...
The other old man, (Phillip Baker Hall) a game show host, goes to his his cocaine addicted daughter (Melora Walters) to tell her he has cancer, she doesn't care. She is later met by a cop (John C. Reily) on account of a noise complaint. They form a weird bond through out the movie that really show cases John C. Reily's amazing vulnerability.
And (William H. Macy) was a boy who won the game show the other old man runs, and his story takes place years after the game show, and his self disintegration.
This is getting very bunched up in my attempts to explain everything that is going on. But there are some really amazing themes that stream through out the movie, all scored by appropriate music. I really enjoyed everyone's performance, and the payoff at the end of the movie is fantastic. It is a drama, but there are some small doses of black and necessary comedy.
Everything is wrapped up extremely well, and it all comes full circle. Regarding the first images of the movie, and the character's development through out... Just watch the movie!
It's on HBO, or you could also try DVD. It is a good reflection on life, death, and deep regret. The final song by Aimee Mann "Wise Up" plays on the radio, and all of the characters sing along simultaneously. It's a really moving and intense scene to bring some kind of closure to this one eventful day.
Also, the director Paul Thomas Anderson is married to Maya Rudolph!