Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
November 1, 2012
**1/2 (out of four)
What a week for bad behavior.
While Denzel Washington’s heroic, drug- and alcohol-addicted pilot in “Flight” is getting raves, “The Details” presents a character study with rougher edges and more to say than, “It’s difficult but important to admit when you have a problem.”
Doing no favors for stereotypes about priorities that drive the male brain, Jeff (Tobey Maguire) digs himself into an increasingly deeper hole with multiple fouls. He sleeps with his gorgeous friend, Rebecca (Kerry Washington), as a result of his unsatisfying marriage to Nealy (Elizabeth Banks, underused) and, seemingly, years of unfulfilled desire for Rebecca. He also attempts to poison the raccoons digging up his lawn and gets in all kinds of hot water with his crazy cat-lady neighbor (Laura Linney, giving dimension to a character who works better on screen than the page). Meanwhile, his friend, Lincoln (Dennis Haysbert), who only knows about the good things Jeff does for him, still sees his pal as a saint.
Still exploring morality eight years after “Mean Creek,” writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes incorporates predictable and/or contrived developments as one questionable decision begets another until major consequences result. Jeff’s visions of raccoons also spin the darkly comic tone closer to oddball farce. However, “The Details” doesn’t succumb to easy changes in lifestyle or messages about truth. Estes knows karma sometimes takes a while to come around, and doing the right thing can be a foggy concept.
One of many questions you may ponder afterward: Does it really matter if you do something selfless for selfish reasons?
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC