PLOT: A divorcee’s (Reilly) relationship with his new girlfriend (Tomei) is put on the rocks by his interactions with her weirdo man-child son named Cyrus.
WHO'S IT FOR?: The art-house crowd that enjoys John C. Reilly’s dramatic work, and are also willing to give Superbad’s Jonah Hill an acting chance. Either way, everyone should know that this isn't any version of Step Brothers 2.
EXPECTATIONS: My previous experience with the Mumblecore genre was with Humpday. I didn’t know going in to Cyrus that I would have to resort back to my memories of that specific film’s style.
John C. Reilly as John: It may be difficult to watch this character and not draw comparisons to earlier schlubs that Reilly has played, but at least here he demonstrates a surprising amount of heart. One could argue here that he has his own “immaturities,” but he’s still the most mature of the three leading members. As a divorcee he’s got his own moments of fragility, and they make him all the more human. Score: 7
Marisa Tomei as Molly: She has her own bits of childish behavior that can sometimes lend towards a fragility not expected in most middle-aged female characters. A woman that has both her looks and the hots for a man who calls himself “Shrek” seems slightly unreal, but the queerness of the movie makes her character more believable. Besides, Tomei is the leading champ of being romantically connected to ugly dudes. Check out this list: Joe Pesci, Mickey Rourke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and now, John C. Reilly. Score: 6
Jonah Hill as Cyrus: Like Ben Stiller’s recent title character Greenberg, Cyrus straddles the line between boy and man, but is believable in his own special way throughout his teeter-tottering of maturity. Indicating the progressive strangeness of his character, the bags under Hill’s eyes seem to get heavier and heavier as scene moves on. Still, while this character is at the core of many awkward moments, it’s better not to view Hill’s performance as comedy. If you compare his actions to a person trying to play up the odd humor, then you take away the striking dimension of Cyrus, and add on more unnecessary expectation for him to out-weird himself. Score: 7
TALKING: The naturalness of the characters lends itself to the improvisational style used throughout. In case of humor, John C. Reilly has a few lines that are directly funny, and Marisa Tomei has a great introductory line. There's hardly a sentence in Cyrus that feels totally scripted, instead it all feels totally honest. Score: 8
SIGHTS: The usage of digital cameras allows for this type of film to perform abrupt zooms on characters without having to worry immediately about focus. This is a technique that can lend itself towards realism for others, or the constant ironic technique for this laid back film can remind some that this is absolutely a movie without the proper visual resemblances to real life. All of this being said, Cyrus does not saddle the camera with the task of establishing when shots have run out, as the film does have normal editing. One would think that a movie using a digital camera would possibly endeavor into long takes, but such is not the case here. Score: 6
SOUNDS: Muted acoustic guitars rushing to find a base are heard in Michael Andrews’ selectively used score. His music is utilized whenever the Duplass Brothers need a segway moment; they don’t let non-diegetic material cloud up the reality they are aiming to convey. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: The introduction of Cyrus' musical career is by far the most amusing (and possibly funniest) moment between John and Molly's special seed.
ENDING: A different kind of "Come in?" conclusion.
QUESTIONS: The curiosities I have about Cyrus are answered HERE in my interview with actor John C. Reilly.
REWATCHABILITY: Providing more character study than laughs, the performances are worth a second look. This isn't the kind of "comedy" that one can properly re-visit with random quotings.
When viewers are searching for laughs in character Cyrus’ odd moments or random bits of dialgoue, they are going to come up very short, or compensate with forced laughter that will later feel like an artificial memory. The film’s handling of a semi-Oedipus complex, along with the “loser” comedy sprinkled throughout by Cyrus and John, are not obnoxious if observed with respect to the genuine nature of that these oddballs. If you look at a movie like Cyrus with glasses tinted by “funny”, you’d be seeing a whole different world, captured by what would seem like a disappointing movie.
When talking to him about Cyrus, John C. Reilly mentioned that the Duplass Brothers do not like the subgenre title “mumblecore,” and I tend to agree. The limited cast of this movie doesn’t actually mumble in this specific film, but they do talk a lot. When they do discuss whatever may be on their mind, they speak through a script written by reality, and in accordance to life’s non-written conversations, their exchanges can be a bit odd, if not discomforting. Cyrus doesn’t align with what someone would imagine a “mumblecore” movie to look like, so to speak, but it does beg a more acute term – how about “maladroitcore”?
Cyrus is a movie that recognizes human interactions can be more awkward than than they are smooth, and while it may star two schlubs known for goofing off in Judd Apatow-like productions, their social clumsiness is not focused with the straight-shot intention of being funny. A movie like this only has the marketing potential to be another fraternal fight. The achieved realism protects this story from becoming simple entertainment, and thus the authentic weirdos in Cyrus help in making this an odd specialty.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10