A new trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" introduces us to the drug-fueled world of Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), and the rampant crime and uncertainty that's around seemingly every corner in southern California.

"It's the tail-end of the psychedelic '60s, and paranoia is running the day," our narrator explains as she introduces us to Doc, who stumbles into some trouble after agreeing to help his ex with a mysterious problem. Doc, our narrator would have us believe, is meant to be a hero, but his bumbling, stonerific personality keeps getting in the way.

It all feels very madcap and freewheeling, though we're constantly reminded of all the real-life nightmarish moments surrounding -- and informing -- the story: the Charles Manson murders, the Watts riots, the Hollywood blacklist. "Inherent Vice" may invite audiences to inhale and enjoy the haze, but it also equally wants them to pay attention.

"Inherent Vice," based on the Thomas Pynchon novel, and starring Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, and Katherine Waterston, opens in select theaters on December 12. It hits wide release in January 2015.