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Movie review: 'The Details'

Posted 2:32pm on Friday, Nov. 02, 2012

R (strong language, sexual content, drug use, brief violence); 102 min.

In The Details, Tobey Maguire is a not-that-happily married suburban Washington OB/GYN whose new lawn would be the great joy of his life. If only the raccoons would stop digging it up.

The raccoons are why Dr. Jeff Lang has to abandon his nights prowling the Internet for porn. His wife (Elizabeth Banks) may want a second baby, but her excuses for not having sex are legion. Raccoons are why Jeff has to make nice with their "wackadoodle neighbor," a wild-haired harridan played by Laura Linney. That, and the Langs want to add on to their house, in spite of the zoning that prohibits it, and don't want "wackadoodle" to interfere.

Jeff is being tugged in so many directions. He wants to have that second kid, to keep his wife happy. He wants the neighbor, a borderline "cat lady," calm. He'd like to do right by the working-class pal he plays basketball with (Dennis Haysbert).

And he just flat out wants that college classmate, now married to a restaurateur (Ray Liotta), played by Kerry Washington.

And with every disaster that befalls Jeff, Maguire has just the right expression of disbelief and dismay to match it.

The players are better than the lurching, uneven script here. Writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes realized this and hurls extreme close-ups at us to accentuate Maguire's mania and Linney's lunacy. There are (fast-motion) sexual flashbacks, Internet interludes and sharp deviations from the central story that surprise, but they stop the movie cold.

The moral lessons -- unusual for a comedy this dark -- are muddy, and you get the sense that other characters have shadings that maybe the film's editing lost.

Exclusive: Angelika Dallas

-- Roger Moore,

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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