The Details

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Details Movie Poster Image
Bad choices and immoral acts go unpunished in dark comedy.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Almost everyone in this film lies, cheats, steals, or worse -- and nobody seems to get what they richly deserve. The innocent are punished, while the guilty get to live a good life. There's simply no justice here.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Jeff Lang plays Good Samaritan to help a friend in need, he has few other redeeming characteristics. He cheats on his wife, scams his way through medical school, plots a murder, and even tries some illegal home improvements. And worst of all, it seems like he might get away with all of it.

Violence

A few heated arguments and one rather gruesome, bloody murder using a bow. A man intentionally drives over an animal and then puts the car in reverse and does it again, just to be sure.

Sex

A few sex scenes, some featuring quick glimpses of naked backsides and suggestions of oral sex. A husband and wife argue about their sex life, and the man sometimes masturbates to online pornography.

Language

Frequent swearing includes many permutations of "f--k," plus "s--t," "whore," and more.

Consumerism

One character mentions grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, and a Nike shoe is visible in an early scene.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two characters get drunk in a bar, then go smoke a joint and fondly recall the times they got wasted in medical school. People drink wine and other alcoholic beverages at social events and meals.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Details is a dark comedy about a not-so-likeable man (Tobey Maguire) who commits some pretty heinous deeds. He lies, cheats on his wife, considers murder, and even intentionally runs his car over an animal. Other people in the film are just as unpleasant, and nobody really gets what they deserve. There's plenty of swearing (including multiple variations on "f--k"), some drinking, and one scene in which people smoke pot. There's also a rather bloody murder involving a bow and three sex scenes in which bare backsides are glimpsed and oral sex is suggested. A character masturbates to online porn. (The movie is also available on demand.)

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What's the story?

Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) is living the suburban dream, with a beautiful house, charming wife (Elizabeth Banks), adorable young child, and an environmentally friendly car. He's also got a problem with raccoons destroying his garden, and his efforts to eliminate them leads to one bad decision after another. Soon he's fighting with his spouse about his manic pest-control mission, bickering with a wacky neighbor (Laura Linney) about local zoning rules, getting involved in two extramarital sexual encounters, raiding his savings to pay hush money, and even contemplating murder. Never mind that he's also playing Good Samaritan to help a basketball pal (Dennis Haysbert). Jeff might seem like a great guy on the outside, but inside he's a total weasel.

Is it any good?

THE DETAILS is long on exactly that -- it spells out in careful detail how one bad choice begets another, sending Jeff off on a twisted mission to try to cover up his misdeeds. It takes pains to paint him as weak, too small of a man to own up to his lies and take what's coming to him. Instead, when faced with a problem, he just tries to buy his way out of trouble, and the prices get higher and higher.

Soon, he can't pay them at all, and that's where the film seems to stumble. What's missing is context. Every time it looks like Jeff might be out of the woods, the story throws viewers another curveball. It's funny, but it's just one calamity after another, forcing Jeff to use ever more devious ploys to cover his tracks. It never seems to stop, not until The Details just halts in its tracks. Does he get what he deserves? Is there some kind of moral takeaway? Not really. As Jeff says in the end, life just goes on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Details' characters. Do any of them have redeeming qualities? Are they sympathetic? Does a movie need to have relatable characters to succeed?

  • How does the movie portray marriage? How does it compare to other movie marriages?

  • Why do you think Jeff cheats on his wife? Why does he dream about an innocent woman getting killed? Does he get what he deserves?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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