DVD Review - The Details

Writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes is perhaps the love child of Woody Allen and Todd Solondz. This movie's story and themes have echoes of Match Point. The comedy and tone are very reminiscent of something like Dark Horse. Toby Maguire stars as Jeff Lang, a doctor and OB-GYN in Seattle. Jeff is married to Nealy, played by Elizabeth Banks, and he has a toddler named Miles. An affair threatens to ruin this family and particularly this man who might already be ruined, but, along the way, some borderline surreal things occur, things that are certainly ridiculous like a piano falling from the sky.

One of the more ridiculous things is Jeff's pursuit of a raccoon that is tearing up his backyard. His attempts to rid himself of the raccoon or raccoons or exterminate them are silly. They become increasingly sillier. It's a source of humor and it becomes emblematic of Jeff's frustration, a frustration that includes sexual frustration. Supposedly, Jeff is not getting his needs met by Nealy.

We get this from one scene where she turns down sex with him. Jeff then turns to the Internet, chats online with girls and masturbates. He even considers cheating on Nealy with one of these Internet girls. This is fine, but Estes' screenplay could have used more scenes establishing the rift between the married couple. Her turning him down once is not enough.

I buy that there is a disconnect because through Maguire and Banks' performances, I get that there isn't a lot of heat between them. It's so much so that I don't get why the two of them are even married in the first place. You wonder if they're only together because Nealy got pregnant, but then you wonder why she would even have sex with him at all. There is a scene of the two of them having sex done in fast-motion, which does an injustice to the depiction of their relationship, and takes me back to square one.

No offense to Maguire, but he's not the sexiest or most attractive guy in the world! Yet, there is a wide range of beautiful women after him from Kerry Washington who plays Rebecca, a fellow doctor and therapist, to Laura Linney who plays Lila, the cooky next-door neighbor. Rebecca easily drops her panties for Jeff and Lila obsessively chases him desperate to get into his underwear. I'm not sure I readily accept either woman's actions.

Regardless, these actions lead to some interesting moments. One moment comes at the end of the movie that makes all the ridiculousness worth it. It is such a crazy moment where Jeff makes a confession for the second time that is so shocking and so jaw-dropping, even though it's information that the audience already knows, you can't help but be thrilled and fully engaged by it.

Jeff also plays basketball with an elderly black man nicknamed Lincoln, played by Dennis Haysbert. The relationship developed is probably the best relationship in the film, both from Jeff's perspective and from a screenwriting level. It's assumed that Jeff's attraction to Lincoln is based in guilt, but a genuine rapport is built and what could be considered a bromance.

Like with Nealy, Estes' screenplay also could have used more scenes establishing conversely the bond between Jeff and Lincoln. There is a fantastic, if simple scene of the two on the basketball court just shooting hoops and talking, which goes a long way. However, a bit more time in Lincoln's home life would have helped to make Lincoln's final act a tad more believable.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 41 mins.


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