Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson were positively foaming at the mouth upon hearing news that the legendary director was to adapt Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice. Further good news was to follow when Joaquin Phoenix - Oscar nominated star of The Master - had signed onto play private eye Doc Sportello. 

Paul Thomas AndersonJoaquin Phoenix [L] and Josh Brolin [R] in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice

In the months that followed, arguably the best cast of the year was assembled, with Benecio Del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Josh Brolin taking supporting roles. Early reaction was lukewarm but now, on the eve of its full U.S release, the heavyweight critics are beginning to wade in.

More: Joaquin Phoenix is joined by a first rated cast in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice

"Despite the film's frustrations, it must be acknowledged that Anderson -- a master of the multi-strand, multi-character, multi-meaning plot - is the perfect director to adapt Pynchon, in terms of both craft and spirit," said Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press.

"More than just an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel, the film engages with the author's literature on the whole, attempting a filmic analogue to his virtuosic prose," wrote Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader.

Inherent ViceReese Witherspoon [L] co-stars in Inherent Vice

"Too often, the film gets distracted with things to giggle at, and breaks the spell," said Liam Lacey of the Globe & Mail.

"Anderson brings us tangibly close to the colors and moods and dream horizons of America in the days of Hawks and Doves. We breathe its air and move with its remembered gesticulations at its peculiar pace," said Kent Jones of Film Comment Magazine.

More: Inherent Vice reviews - "You're in the hands of a master"

"You'll read plenty of comparisons to Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye or The Big Lebowski by the Coens, but it's really not doing the same thing either of those films did. This is a singular thing, and it is gorgeous," said Drew McWeeney of

Sitting on a score of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, Inherent Vice isn't exactly making waves ahead of the Oscar nominations this month - it's actually Anderson's  lowest rated directorial effort - though we're guessing  diehard fans won't give a damn whether the director, or Phoenix, are sitting in tuxedos come February 15.

Watch the trailer for Inherent Vice: