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Tobey Maguire: Curse of the “Spider-Man”?

September 5, 2012

Much has been made of the so-called “Superman curse”: the tragedies of George Reeves’ death, Christopher Reeve’s accident and Dean Cain’s and Brandon James Routh’s careers. But could there be a “Spider-Man curse” as well? The only actor to play a live-action version of Peter Parker on TV, Nicholas Hammond, vanished into obscurity, with his most notable non-Spidey role a gig as Aaron Spelling in the 2005 TV movie Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure. And now Tobey Maguire seems to be getting caught in a post-webslinger malaise.

True, he got a Golden Globe nomination for 2009’s little-seen postwar drama Brothers, but Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby (in which Maguire stars as Nick Carraway opposite pal Leo DiCaprio) has been bumped until next summer—a not-so-great sign. He’s also been cut out of likely Oscar contender Life of Pi, which would’ve reunited him with Ice Storm director Ang Lee (he was replaced in his role as writer Yann Martel by Prometheus‘ Rafe Spall). And his dark suburban comedy The Details has been gathering dust on a shelf since it was filmed three years ago. It’ll finally be released on VOD next month. I got a sneak peek, and I can see why the Weinstein Co. is quietly burying this turkey after spending $8 million to acquire it at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Maguire stars as a disgruntled OB/GYN who becomes obsessed with eradicating racoons from his yard and winds up descending into a spiral of online porn, adultery and murder. The naif-like quality that served him so well in early films like Wonder Boys, Pleasantville and The Cider House rules isn’t aging well. Maguire mostly seems like a passive bystander while more colorful performers like Elizabeth Banks (as his unsatisfied wife), Kerry Washington (as his sexy paramour), Ray Liotta (as her jealous husband), Dennis Haysbert (as a critically ill pal) and Laura Linney (as a crazy cat lady) strain to carry the outlandish movie that’s collapsing around them.

The Details suffers from that age-old dilemma: It doesn’t know the difference between funny strange and funny ha-ha. Written and directed by Mean Creek‘s Jacob Aaron Estes, it’s neither amusing enough to work as a comedy nor affecting enough to work as a drama. One thing’s for sure: It won’t pull Maguire out of his career tailspin.

One other thing: Watch your back, Andrew Garfield! Are your Spidey senses tingling?

Can Tobey Maguire’s career be saved, or is it deader than Seabiscuit? Comment!

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