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The Details Blu-ray Review

The Details (2012) movie poster The Details

Theatrical Release: November 2, 2012 / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Jacob Aaron Estes

Cast: Tobey Maguire (Dr. Jeffrey Lang), Elizabeth Banks (Nealy Lang), Dennis Haysbert (Leonard/"Link"/Lincoln), Ray Liotta (Peter Mazzoni), Kerry Washington (Dr. Rebecca Mazzoni), Laura Linney (Lilith "Lila" Wasserman), Miles Ellenwood (Miles Lang), Cathy Vu (Fruit Fantasy Girl), Marlette Buchanan (Angela)

Buy The Details from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Since Spider-Man 4 ended up not happening, Tobey Maguire has been scarce of late. In the five years after he last wrestled with the weight of superherodom, Maguire returned to theaters just once,
for the 2009 love triangle drama Brothers that underperformed commercially and failed to live up to awards expectations. It's not like Maguire has been relegated to the direct-to-video market; he just stopped making movies, comfortable from his blockbuster earnings and likely enjoying life with his wife and two young children.

Last holiday season was destined to provide Maguire with a comeback vehicle, playing the role of Nick Carraway in Baz Luhrmann's lavish new filming of The Great Gatsby. Instead, that film was bumped to its imminent May release and Maguire fans had to settle for a much smaller revival in the form of the independent film The Details. You're forgiven if this dark comedy didn't turn up on your radars. It played in just 73 theaters for a mere ten days for a final gross of $64 thousand, or twice what all 3,615 theaters averaged on the opening weekend of the original Spider-Man.

The second feature both written and directed by Mean Creek's Jacob Aaron Estes, The Details centers on Dr. Jeffrey Lang (Tobey Maguire), a Seattle OB/GYN celebrating ten years of marriage with his wife Nealy (Elizabeth Banks in a Daily Bugle reunion). Though they can hide it in front of friends and their young son Miles (Miles Ellenwood), in front of whom they spell curse words, the Langs' marriage has grown somewhat loveless, lacking both honesty and physical intimacy. That doesn't bother Jeff as much as the raccoons who each night pull up the sod he has just had planted on the front lawn as part of a relandscaping and home renovation being performed in preparation for a second child. After wind chimes and live traps do not work, Jeff turns to poison, a technique with unintended consequences.

Nealy (Elizabeth Banks) and Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) awaken to find their lawn's sod torn up by raccoons. Link/Lincoln/Leonard (Dennis Haysbert) is a pal and confidant who benefits from Jeff's generous side.

Those consequences require Jeff to finesse his hysterical next door neighbor Lilith "Lila" Wasserman (Laura Linney), a nosy and seemingly insane woman with eyes for him. Also complicating life for Jeff is a night spent with Rebecca (Kerry Washington). The two old friends and med school classmates blow off steam with marijuana, prompting more consequences with actions born out of reduced inhibitions and clouded judgment. Then there is Jeff's basketball buddy Lincoln (Dennis Haysbert), a man whose bad luck has run from just narrowly missing a chance to play in the NBA to his bleak present predicament of kidney failure. Jeff offers to better Lincoln's life in two major ways.

The Details feels like an adaptation of a novel or a play, but Estes' screenplay is entirely original. His writing style is confident and profound. One imagines that the personal and mature reflections on pre-middle age are drawn from experience. The few known pieces of information on the filmmaker seem to confirm that; he just turned 40 in September and has been married for some unspecified time. The final credited cast member, in the role of Ultrasound Child, would appear to be his own. At the same time, one hopes Estes has an active imagination and is not actually being driven to the dark, uncomfortable places his protagonist stumbles into.

The Details isn't so funny, but it does not have to be, since it is, like most independent comedies, really a dramedy. The film is sincere, thoughtful, and interesting as it develops these three-dimensional characters and uses them to plunge Jeff into the depths of virtual and actual infidelity, nine-figure blackmail, unplanned pregnancy, and organ donation. The dark and unabashedly R-rated content was enough to ensure limited distribution and commercial prospects, two of the principles of the Radius-TWC banner under which The Weinstein Company acquired and released this film.

Next door neighbor from hell Lilith Peter Mazzoni (Ray Liotta) gives an impassioned deconstruction of the protagonist's character on a bridge from which $75,000 in cash just been dropped in the river.

Many viewers will lament the lack of likable characters or find it difficult to wrap their heads around a tone that moves from feel-good to feel-terrible in a matter of moments. Estes had to expect such criticisms and made peace with them, because he is clearly less interested in making a film that appeals to the masses than making one that contemplates and conveys the complicated feelings of a long-term marriage.
Although the film journeys to some real extremes and dabbles in the occasional bit of fantasy (e.g. raccoons briefly strike a haunting presence for Jeff), its ideas are grounded in reality and an utter interest in the human condition.

Maguire turns 38 in June, but here he still looks like the same young man once bitten by a radioactive spider. The Details was filmed back in the summer of 2009 and had its premiere in January 2011's Sundance Film Festival. But that alone can't explain the boyish quality to the leading man, which is noted by Ray Liotta's character in a passionate rant. Maguire anchors the film quite nicely, managing to retain some sympathy for the lead through episodes where that should not be possible. His co-stars are up to the challenges as well, seizing opportunities to give their characters personality and unpredictability. Linney goes far out there in a way I haven't seen before. Haysbert, sporting a bald head and a thick salt and pepper beard, is especially good, doing more acting than the genre fare for which he may be best known. Since the cast does not extend much further than the six prominently-billed actors, everyone gets some interesting material, even if all but two of them drift out of the picture by its end.

Mirroring last week's home video debuts of both Django Unchained and Dragon, next Tuesday pairs an Oscar-winning Weinstein Company film (Silver Linings Playbook) with this little-known Radius-TWC one possessing a comparable tone and target audience. Like Dragon and unlike Django and Silver, The Details is available only in separate DVD and Blu-ray editions, neither fitted with a digital copy.

The Details Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Subtitled in English; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($24.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Details may have cost less than the average film, but you can't tell that just by looking at it. The 1.78:1 transfer of Anchor Bay's Blu-ray is excellent. It remains clean, sharp, and full of detail. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is highly satisfying as well. This isn't a film whose sound design will grab your notice, but the dialogue, music, and few effects are evenly-mixed and perfectly crisp.

Jeff (Tobey Maguire) proudly displays an important can of tuna in the ethereal alternate beginning. Pete (Ray Liotta) ends up teaching kids how to cook in this alternate ending. The Details' title logo appears on the Blu-ray's menu, which, like the cover art, features a raccoon at its top left corner.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Details is joined by just two bonus features here, short non-standard clips that should be of some interest.

An alternate beginning (2:06) would have started the film in much the same way, only casting Jeff's opening narration in a different and fatalistic light (while giving him a continuity-defying haircut suggestive of a reshoot). That is in line with the alternate ending (4:51), which commits to the outcome it portrays as fantasy,
following up on how one character's tragedy affects the others in positive ways. These bits, presented in letterboxed 4:3 standard definition with the occasional timecode over them, illustrate the film's challenges at its critical opposite ends. Had Estes went with these alternate choices, it would have given him a much different film even more difficult to like.

The Blu-ray opens with trailers for Silver Linings Playbook (SD), Bachelorette (HD), and Lay the Favorite (HD). The Details' own trailer, included on other Weinstein Blu-rays, is unfortunately missing here.

The ordinary menu places listings and a black and white border over a looped, scored montage. Unfortunately, the disc neither supports bookmarks nor resumes playback.

The only thing distinguishing the packaging besides the full-color disc label (an increasingly rare touch nowadays) is an insert with manufacturer's coupons for $3 off the Blu-ray and DVD editions of 10 Years, Butter, Solitary Man, and Sunshine Cleaning.

Tobey Maguire goes crawling around: you can take the boy out of the Spidey suit, but you can't take the Spidey out of the boy.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There's a very good chance you'll dislike The Details, being repulsed by its characters and darker beats. That is a perfectly valid response to the film, although one that sells short all of the thought and humanity Jacob Aaron Estes and his cast have poured into this comedy. I still can't decide if I liked the movie or not; when there's doubt, that usually means not, but it gives you too much to think about to simply dismiss it for its challenging content.

The Blu-ray offers a perfect feature presentation and little more than that, lending to a rental if interested.

Buy The Details from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New: The Squid and the Whale & Running with Scissors Family Weekend Not Fade Away Pawn The Grifters Down the Shore
Tobey Maguire: Spider-Man Spider-Man 2 Spider-Man 3 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Elizabeth Banks: Our Idiot Brother People Like Us The Hunger Games The Uninvited Invincible Fred Claus
Laura Linney: Driving Lessons Primal Fear | Ray Liotta: Youth in Revolt All Things Fall Apart Killing Them Softly
Jack Goes Boating Ruby Sparks The Descendants Revolutionary Road 10 Years
Accidents Happen happyythankyoumoreplease Take Shelter | Radius-TWC: Lay the Favorite Butter Dragon

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Reviewed April 24, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 RaDiUS-TWC, The Weinstein Company, Yuk Films, LD Entertainment, The Mark Gordon Company, Liddell Entertainment,
and 2013 Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.