Friday, June 21, 2024

Tobey Maguire, ex-Spider Man, Grows Up in “The Details”


If you think about it, Tobey Maguire spent the 90s as a wide eyed naif in movies like “The Cider House Rules” and “Wonder Boys.” For most of the 2000s, he was Spider Man in three blockbusters. At 35, even though he’s an adult, married, with kids, Maguire is kind of an enigma.

Not any more. With “The Details,” written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, Maguire grows up. As Dr Jeff Lang, an ob-gyn, Maguire nails “The Details”–which premiered on Monday night here at Sundance–and gives the performance of his life.

This black comedy is really a tour de force, as Jeff manages to turn a simple suburban house-extension project into a nightmare that mushrooms into infidelities, murder, and calamaties almost too hard to explain to his wife, played by Elizabeth Banks as a beautiful comic straight woman.

Maguire and Banks are not alone: Laura Linney is hysterical as a very eccentric neighbor who figures large in their lives. There are also great supporting turns by Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta and Kerry Washington (whose character disappears — I hope there’s a resolution on the cutting room floor).

Estes– who directed “Mean Creek” a few years ago–never lets go of the reigns of “The Details.” Maybe this film is the “Little Miss Sunshine” of this festival. He manages to keep the humor high and the pathos just where it belongs,landing “The Details” like a plane in a suburban backyard filled literally with ripped up sof and cute but dangerous raccoons.

Maguire is the real focus here. Not only does he give up Spider Man, he also makes a little “Mary Jane” joke just to signal this is a new chapter in his career. This one should last a long time.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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