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Quint really digs the Tobey Maguire/Elizabeth Banks black comedy THE DETAILS! Sundance 2011!

Published at: Jan. 25, 2011, 11:37 p.m. CST by quint

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This has been an incredibly good fest for comedies. Even though I go through the Sundance schedule a few dozen times before even setting foot in Park City the movies tend to run together in my mind, so I schedule furiously in the weeks leading up to the fest.

Even with all that, by the time I get to this mid-point of the fest, I start caring about what film is what and just show up to the theater. I wasn’t reminded that this one, called The Details, was the Tobey Maguire movie until the day before and even then I only recalled that the info in the guide was vague at best… something about raccoons tearing up Maguire’s yard.

 

 

I’m kind of glad I went into this movie with little to no knowledge of the plot because this movie is kind of ridiculous. There’s a lot of these kinds of movies at the fest this year… ridiculous movies with semi-outrageous aspects, but with real dramatic weight to them.

What you have here is essentially one man’s slow descent into hell. The opening shot (and I swear to God this isn’t a story spoiler) has Tobey Maguire sitting outside, looking a little bewildered as the shot holds on him for quite a while. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere a piano drops on him. Like Coyote/Road Runner piano drop. Twitching leg sticking out from underneath Wicked Witch style.

Voice over tells us that the events that led him there started simply enough… with a new lawn in the backyard. This sod is filled with earthworms and apparently raccoons like to eat earthworms, so the little bastards start tearing up the sod at night.

That one little event acts as the first falling domino that sets off a series of events that lead to life, death, bribery, infidelity and murder. But all under the banner of a drama-comedy written and directed by the guy that handled the very underseen, but very good MEAN CREEK, Mr. Jacob Aaron Estes.

Know what this movie really reminded me of? A funnier and far more watchable REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. The base is the same… we see the deterioration of a marriage through external difficulties, but I don’t remember Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet arguing in slow motion as fighting dog sounds were overlaid.

Maguire’s wife is played by Elizabeth Banks, in perhaps her best performance, and the relationship is clearly strained even before the events of the movie. They have a very cute kid, are fairly well off (he’s a doctor), but there’s no honesty in their relationship.

So, when shit starts to go down, when old friends turn into lovers, there’s no through road for Maguire to relieve the tension. Instead, he keeps these welling emotions, desires and hidden shames deep inside, letting what is really a minor situation get so ridiculously out of hand that you never really know just how far this movie will go.

Before I flake out due to a completely run down battery (talking both literally with my computer and figuratively with my sleep-deprived state), I want to bring up Mr. Dennis Haysbert, who plays a friend of Maguire’s, an older almost-was basketball player. Haysbert is the innocent of the movie… he has a strong moral compass, an even stronger faith, a beautiful family, a genuine kindness and, unfortunately, failing kidneys. The prognosis isn’t good, but you’d never know it from this smiling giant of a man.

At a certain point Maguire uses this friendship as a way to make himself feel selfless, an act that reflects both positively and negatively on his character. But Maguire’s situation is so fucked up that he ends up tainting even this nearly angelic character.

Hayesbert is fantastic in the movie, probably my single favorite performance in the film. I’ve been a fan of his since 24 (and I still firmly believe that his President David Palmer helped pave the way for our first real life African-American President), so it was good to see him back again and in such great form.

I also want to recognize the always dependable Laura Linney who is almost unrecognizable as the crazy cat lady that lives next door to Maguire and Banks. She has Joker-level crazy in her eyes, but also a kind of sadness about her. It’s really a great performance.

The Weinstein Company just picked up this flick and I highly recommend it. It has a lot of star power and a lot of recognizable faces (I didn’t even mention Ray Liotta is in the flick yet and he’s good in it, too!), but most importantly it’s a nice semi-cynical, semi-hopeful bleak comedy.

If I know the Weinsteins like I think I know the Weinsteins you’ll see a big push for Linney as supporting actress next round of Academy Awards. I don’t know if this picture is arty or mainstream enough to get any bigger recognition, but it’s certainly one of my favorites of the festival and one I find easy as pie to recommend.

If you want an up to the minute account of what I’m seeing and my immediate verdict on Sundance flicks as I see them be sure to follow me on Twitter!

-Quint
quint@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:43 p.m. CST

    I want Haysbert to play the lead in my autobiography.

    by Tigger Tales

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:58 p.m. CST

    sounds good

    by Mennen

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:01 a.m. CST

    It's shameful how few roles Haysbert receives

    by The Krypton Kid

    A stellar actor and a great on-camera presence. He deserves much more film work than he receives.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:18 a.m. CST

    so how does RED STATE end?

    by darth_hideous

    is it a big twist?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:28 a.m. CST

    great (fictional) black presidents

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    Morgan Freeman in Deep Impant Tiny Lester in 5th Element Danny Glover in 2012 Terry Crews in Idiocracy ...sadly, each one had terms while Earth was going through some major shit THANKS HOLLYWOOD! now give me a fuckin Japanese President!!!

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:28 a.m. CST

    furthermore on a Japanese President

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    ...it will be played by a Korean. THANKS HOLLYWOOD!!!

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:14 a.m. CST

    I still think the 24 writers fucked over

    by BillEmic

    Dennis Haysbert, by completely derailing his character in Season 3 to the point where his character couldn't even run for a second term. In Season 2 he was the best fucking President ever!

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:17 a.m. CST

    Finally Betty Brant and Peter Parker get together

    by Orion

    Never understood what he saw in the dog faced Mary Jane.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 2:45 a.m. CST

    thanks for saving me a spot

    by frank cotton

    and that was frank cotton for OBSESSEDARTIST.COM, where you can find some of frank's own stuff, if you feel like wasting that much time. thanks frank, and i'm your host, frank cotton at K.A.L.I. radio on your, well, the lawyers have informed me that i can no longer refer to 'your XM dial', so we're going to start the show by officially, more or less, hell let's just call it YOUR IM DIAL, from here on out, for lack of anything better. that settled, ok. before we get back to my latest ramble, we need some sounds. frank! let's hear JUST GOT WICKED, CONFESSION, IT'S ALL GOOD, and ANTI-LOVE SONG by COLD off 13 WAYS TO BLEED ON STAGE. got that? no, wait just a second frank, there's one thing i need to do first. a dedication, to all of the women in the world, from me. i started writing it for KRISTIN, worked on it some more for VIVICA, the one that almost killed me, and finished it for LESLIE. it's called WHAT WOULDN'T I DO - i would/wait ‘til the end of time - for you/walk back and forth thru hell - for you/do anything you ask me to --- altho - were you to ask/i could not say/the color of your eyes/for being so lost in them/i would --- live for you - die for you/never cease to cry - for you/rearrange the stars - for you/i would --- never think of you/that way again/if ever you should require it/what wouldn’t i do - for you/i would --- go away and never return/never look back/if ever you should desire it/i would do anything - for you/all you need do is ask --- well, as soon as frank dries his eyes, we'll get back to it. i think we'll line up some more tunes, as this could be a long night. hell, let's just stay up from now 'til the end of time! frank's high enough, ain't ya, frank? what is it tonight? caffiene, nicotine, hydrocodone, good old SUGAR, a touch of this, a pinch of that, no weed, frank's gettin' tested once a month, and top it off with the secret ingredient (legal), not alcohol, the old man drank, and BAM! frank is good to go. let's have PROVE TO YOU, by CHEVELLE, off WONDER WHAT'S NEXT (done the right way, FILTER), MEANT TO LIVE, by SWITCHFOOT from THE BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN, and LOVESONG, by KORN, off that album i can never remember the name of. STEPHEN KING wrote a short story about people on smoke breaks being able to see aliens, anyone else read that? could be important. YOU NEVER KNOW. FRANK! add YOU, MY PRIDE, & ME, and I'VE GOT FRIENDS, MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA, EVERYTHING TO NOTHING, k? and, uh, sorry dude, one more here; AWAKENING, by DROWNING POOL from the UNDERWORLD soundtrack. yes, i'm done. before we return to the sad tale that is frank's mortal existence, it's PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION time. KNIVES! frank loves knives, has a remarkable collection of knives, swords, all kinds of sharp, pointy, poky things, that sadly, he can't get within ten feet of because of the parole thing. just ten months to go, and i'm a free man, more or less. you girls like NICHOLAS CAGE and JOHN TRAVOLTA, right? so you've seen FACE/OFF? remember the thing with the girl and the knife? sound advice ladies, and i propose, no, not THAT kind of proposal, i propose that you arm yourselves against the possibility of global catastrophe, or maybe just some deranged asshole after something he doesn't deserve. because you don't just give it to anybody, now, do you? some things are indeed, more precious than all the gold in the world. rambling? just what the hell are you trying to say frank? that i talk too much, is that it? too mouthy? speak up, frank! i thought so. gutless. so frank recommends knives by GERBER, BENCHMADE, SMITH & WESSON (for the budget conscious), TEKNA, if you can find them, BOKER, hell, FURY (as in a woman scorned) has an unbelievably large selection to choose from. many of these are available at your local FLEA MARKET. frank would really like to see all you lovelies ready, willing and able to field strip and reassemble COLT .45s and M16s in the dark, but, well, that's one of his darker fantasies, and we ain't got that much time. so arm up, please ladies, for the lives you save may well be your own. if you didn't get my drift, every single chick on the planet should have her very own, sharp, and lethal personal defense system, in the form of, well, a knife. frank took a stripper to RED LOBSTER, as no one else was interested, and since she'd just parted ways with her very own psycho-asshole boyfriend, i gave her a nice six inch DAGGER as a conversation starter/ice breaker kind of thing. worked like a charm, you should have seen her eyes light up. more about that disaster later, this is like a soap opera, just kind of drops off here, picks up there, and eventually comes to some sort of conclusion. hey, i told you how fucked up i am, right? SO. you know, all frank wants is one really clear, unobstructed shot at this ASHLEY chick. is that too much to ask? she's so cute, and she's already hangin' out with a KNOWN CHEATER! he had never even met her before, and now here she is, every night this week, hanging out and watching movies and driving me out of my fucking mind. how the fuck does this shit happen? are you girls doing it to each other, because i'm sure it had something to do with AMY. SMOKE BREAK! so, she knows he cheats on everyone, even the one he was planning to marry, and, uh hey girls, are the guys still distracted and not paying attention? good, because this is for your ears only. can you please tell me why you set yourselves up like this? you know he cheats, and you think what, he's going to change just for you? he should, i mean hell, i would, but frank's just not purty enuf, right? but he sure is cute and, and, just what the hell is this all about anyways? it isn't about me. or is it? what is it all about, anyways? wait, i think i remember, i think it was all about PUSSY. that's it. hey, dude, i think it's about time we got COURTNEY back in here, no, not on the show, she's hangin' with NIKKI SIXX, i mean, well, just put the whole CD on. not that one, the other one. idiot. damnit. might as well just do it myself...hey, there's a thought. frank, just play 'em both, back to back. yes. and let the cat in too, while you're up, and, well, it's cold and rainy outside, let her in, dry her off, and give her some treats, it's not like it'll kill you. christ. the dude gets on my nerve sometimes. no, not that one, the other one. no, not the other nerve, the other frank, frank, geez, how hard is it to keep all this straight? SMOKE BREAK! again, what do you mean, again, it's just that, that...that's enough frank, seriously, dude, get a grip. ok.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 6:37 a.m. CST

    Elizabeth Banks seems like she'd be a pretty cool

    by Itchy

    fuckbuddy. Cute, sexy and seems like she's pretty easy going. I like her.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 7:20 a.m. CST

    Haysbert is great in those All-State insurance commercials.

    by mansuper

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Crap now EXPAND doesnt work in firefox

    by MST3KPIMP

    I heard people not being able to expand messages in various browsers but thought it was just them. today i cant do it either and it just brings me to the top. WTF>?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST

    DELETE YOUR CACHE mst3kpimp

    by Rob

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 10:47 a.m. CST

    I want to plow Elizabeth Banks

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    BADLY.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:05 a.m. CST

    I tend to like black/twisted comedies so this sounds pretty fine

    by WriteForTheEdit

    Also, Elizabeth Banks should be a much, MUCH bigger star than she is now. And please let's not forget Haysbert in Major League. Fucking awesome! Love that guy.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:48 p.m. CST

    They fucked Haysbert over when..

    by Stalkeye

    ..Palmer was killed off in season 6, i think. Which to me was the best season of the whole damn series.I still havent found out what happened to that traitorous bitch Nina. Gotta see if it's still on my Netflix instant queue.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:28 p.m. CST

    parker and brant

    by misnomer

    parker and brant. parker and brant. parker and brant.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 3:35 p.m. CST

    "A funnier [version of] REVOLUTIONARY ROAD"

    by captaincosmos

    Yeah, I remember thinking the same thing when I watched the DiCaprio/Winslet flick -- "Interesting stuff, but... it could be funnier." Ha! Just bustin' your balls, Quint! I always dig your reviews, and this sounds like something to check out. That "funnier" line just struck me as, well... funny when I read it. Keep up the great work, dude!

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 5:27 p.m. CST

    This is banks/maguire's 5th movie together

    by Rebel Scumb

    3 spidermans + seabiscuit & now this are they an item?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 6:20 p.m. CST

    Banks >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Dunst

    by Triple_J_72

    Fact. Not opinion. Fact.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 9:54 p.m. CST

    Haysbert was great in Now and Again

    by oisin5199

    Way before 24, Haysbert was freakin' fantastic as the antagonist of Now and Again who eventually becomes sort of a good guy. Oh, and this movie has Peter Parker and Betty Brant together at last!