PLOT: John (John C. Reilly), a lonely middle-aged man, can't believe his luck when he meets the gorgeous, outgoing Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party. The two begin a passionate affair, but Molly seems to be hiding something in her life. One day, John follows her home and meets Cyrus (Jonah Hill): her twenty-two year-old son. Cyrus not only still lives at home, but also shares a deep, unconventional, co-dependent relationship with his mom. Not wanting his life with mom to be threatened by a new man in her life, Cyrus starts a campaign of terror against John, who`s not willing to let go of Molly without a fight.
REVIEW: CYRUS is the first big leap into the mainstream for directors Jay & Mark Duplass, who previously made several well-received indie films, including BAGHEAD. I`m not terribly familiar with their earlier work (other than having seen co-director Mark Duplass in the under-rated HUMPDAY), but if this is any indicator of the quality of their previous films, I have some serious catching up to do. CYRUS is one of the more engaging comedies I've seen in a long time, and a nice return to form for star John C. Reilly.
Before Reilly became known for his wacky comedies like STEP BROTHERS, and WALK HARD, he was an acclaimed character actor, who appeared in some of the best films of the nineties, including two Paul Thomas Anderson masterpieces, BOOGIE NIGHTS, & MAGNOLIA. While CYRUS is still very much a comedy, it`s pretty reality based, unlike some of the films Reilly`s been doing lately. He plays a very real, down to earth guy, who struggles with the fact that his ex-wife (Catherine Keener)-who he still loves, is marrying another guy. He can feel his new relationship with Molly slipping through his fingers due to her unhealthy (but loving) relationship with the domineering Cyrus. In many ways, Reilly`s character here felt like an extension of the one he played in MAGNOLIA- as the lonely single guy trying to make a connection. The difference is that despite his initial sad-sack demeanor, John's not going to give Molly up without a fight. You can't really blame him, as Marisa Tomei is certainly someone worth fighting for.
As for Jonah Hill, this is easily the best work he`s ever done. As the titular CYRUS, Hill manages to walk a fine line, and keep his character somewhat likable, when he could have easily become cartoon-ish. Hill makes him real, and even sympathetic at times. You can tell Cyrus really does love his mother, but he`s too pampered to see how unhealthy his complete dependence on her is for both of them. I should also say, Hill`s freakin` hilarious as Cyrus, particularly when faking night terrors, or playing his Vangellis-like synthpop on his seven synthesizers (release that shit as a single yo!). However- CYRUS never becomes a cartoon, and you can tell that Cyrus, while immature, is relatively sane, and someone who might be salvagable if he could get over his icky co-dependant relationship with Mom.
As much talent as there is in front of the camera, none of this would have worked had it not been for the Duplass Bros., who somehow manage to make a film that could have easily played out like a STEP BROTHERS retread, into a highly entertaining, even somewhat moving comedy. It's a nice change from the bloated, empty headed films that we've been seeing over the last few months, and I hope it does well. It's worth noting that so far- Hill's starred in the two best films of the summer (with GET HIM TO THE GREEK being the other). A few years ago, I was ready to write-off Hill, but he's really proven that he has a range I hadn't thought he possesed. He's buidling a solid body of work, and CYRUS deserves to be a real sleeper hit.
I also hope that people don't slam this with the same "mumblecore" sticker GREENBERG got stamped with earlier this year. While I thought that film was under-rated, this is a MUCH more accesible film, and should play well to anyone who enjoys a little substance in their comedies. It played beautfully at Sundance, and I think anyone who's willing to give it a chance will love it as much as I did. RATING: 9/10