CYRUS (2010)


 Greetings again from the darkness. Trying to come up with the best way to describe this one. It seems to be billed and marketed as a comedy, but it’s very dark and only funny in a few places. The drama is pretty weak at times and uncomfortable all of the time. The comedy really stems from the mano y mano of John C Reilly and Jonah Hill. Marisa Tomei is a not so innocent bystander.  The film just doesn’t lend itself to a particular label.

If you have seen the preview, you know the basic story. John C Reilly is a socially inept oaf who gets dragged to a party and makes a fool of himself. Marisa Tomei views him as something of a lost puppy and takes him under her wing. The big reveal occurs when Tomei’s grown son (Hill) shows up at an inopportune time. Yes, he lives with her and they have a very unique and close relationship.

Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass (writer and director) are known as part of the mumblecore movement – they subscribe to the less rehearsal and minimal script school of film-making. Luckily for them, Hill and Reilly take to this beautifully. Their scenes together are very good at creating an inner turmoil and utter frustration. Luckily for the audience, Reilly’s character has two scenes where he can unleash the lines that the viewers are all thinking! It makes for a nice release of tension.

Hill creates Cyrus as the epitome of a “sneaky little devil”. OK, he’s not so little, but the rest fits. His acts of subversion are well thought out and pure acts of passive aggressiveness. These three characters make for quite the odd little group, but there is surely some insight into single parenthood, loneliness and over-protective parenting. Don’t expect a slapstick comedy in the Judd Apatow mold … this one is a bit creepy and dark.  John Malkovich played the role in Con Air, but Jonah Hill is the real Cyrus the Virus.

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