By Conrad Foreman, For the Daily
Published November 16, 2012
Damn raccoons; somehow these furry little bastards ruin just about everything. In “The Details,” these pests manage to be responsible for multiple infidelities, a pregnancy and a murder. Can’t they just leave our lawns alone?
At the State
The Weinstein Company
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Frustrated and generally unhappy with his marriage, Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire, “Spider-Man”) is driven to cheat on his wife (Elizabeth Banks, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”) after an argument about the raccoons. From there, “The Details” heads down a twisted path that finds Jeff dealing with a neighbor off her rocker, watching $75,000 of his own money rain off of a bridge, donating a kidney and fantasizing about murder via bow and arrow, ending with Jeff facing the daunting task of owning up to his actions and accepting the consequences.
At one point, a piano literally falls on Maguire’s head. There couldn’t be a better metaphor for what he experiences throughout the film, except perhaps, for Maguire stepping in front of an 18-wheeler. Jeff willfully places himself in self-defeating situations, which are doomed to spawn poor results. His inability to give up his efforts to deceive the ones around him makes him a flawed yet refreshingly real character. Jeff suffers from the human tendency to continue to dig when we find ourselves in a hole, which, while frustrating as hell in real life, makes for a character that the audience can relate to.
The film features several impressive supporting performances. Laura Linney (TV's “The Big C”) steals the show as Jeff’s crazy neighbor, whose eccentric behavior and general weirdness provide for much of the film’s comedy. For example, she shows Jeff her recently deceased cat, which she keeps in her fridge. Despite his limited screen time, Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”) stands out due to a heartfelt speech advocating claiming responsibility for one’s mistakes.
At its core, that is the message of “The Details.” Jeff’s problems continue to escalate because of his inability to tell the truth: One lie leads to another until he’s elbow-deep in his own deception and guilt. Only when Jeff acknowledges his mistakes and comes clean is a happy ending to this story even remotely possible.
“The Details” is a very entertaining film, causing cringes, laughs, but most importantly, a connection with the characters throughout. The actors portray their characters with conviction and emotion, the director (Jacob Aaron Estes, “Mean Creek”) does an admirable job taking the audience inside the minds of the characters, and the score by Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn (also of “Mean Creek”) creates tension and establishes a dark tone, which beautifully fits the film while still highlighting the comedic undertones.
“The Details” delivers a strong message in an entertaining fashion. It’s not a light-hearted or uplifting film, but it is definitely worth seeing. So sure, raccoons ruin lawns, raid trash and frustrate homeowners, but their actions can lead to a pretty enjoyable movie.