The Details (2011)

(On Cable TV, October 2014) As far as “suburbia is hell” dark comedies are concerned, The Details runs close to the clichés: Despair over a perfect yard, home renovations, adultery, family-building and keeping good relations with the neighbors all loom large over the stranded subplots of the film.  It’s messy, chaotic, not particularly believable nor even likable, but The Details does score one or two laughs along the way, and is seldom uninteresting largely due to its one-thing-after-another approach to plotting.  For a film that practically went unseen before making its cable-TV debut, writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes’ dark comedy does boast of a pretty good cast: Seldom has anyone used Tobey Maguire’s innate blandness to better effect, while Ray Liotta, Kerry Washington, Dennis Haybert and Elizabeth Banks all turn in perfectly respectable performances.  (Still, Laura Linney earns most of the attention here with a performance that is alternately kooky, frumpy, sexy, scary and pitiable.)  As befits a film that multiplies its subplots, The Details gets a bit sprawled along the way to its dark and cynical conclusion (rather than act as a guide-post, the opening monologues tells a little bit too much), but the ride is interesting.  Don’t let the fact that you’ve never heard of the film dissuade you from taking a chance on it: It’s a sign of the current hyper-saturation of the movie industry that decent films such as this one can disappear in the system for more than three years after a limited theatrical run before resurfacing on cable TV. 

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