In the last decade or so, members of the renowned Frat Pack have provided audiences with many laughs, and even some tears. Veteran Frat Packer, John C. Reilly, and younger member, Jonah Hill’s personalities clash in the beautifully awkward dramedy, Cyrus, a film about love, and family and those who are affected by change.
Meet John (John C. Reilly), a sweet, lonely guy who has been divorced from his wife (Catherine Keener) for seven years. He lives alone and still hasn’t moved on with his life until one night he goes to a party and meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), a cute, down to earth chick who takes a liking to John. The two hit it off and eventually start a relationship. Everything seems to be going fine until John meets Cyrus, Molly’s peculiar 21 year-old son played with slight creepiness by Jonah Hill. Cyrus is attached to Molly in an almost inappropriate way and this gets in the way of John’s courting her.
John C. Reilly is perfectly cast as John, the lovable loser who falls head over heels for Marisa Tomei’s adorably sweet Molly. They definitely have awesome chemistry and it shows with every scene they’re in. Jonah Hill also shines as the dark and slightly warped Cyrus. This isn’tSuperbad Jonah Hill but an actor who for the first time shows us a different side of his acting. He’s vulnerable, unpredictable, and downright weird.
The camera work in Cyrus is rather interesting too. Directed by brothers, Jay and Mark Duplass, the film is shot documentary style. It’s almost like watching an hour and a half long episode of The Office. This technique is used well here and it makes the movie feel more realistic. The Duplass brothers also penned the script which is lackluster at best. There is little emotion in the words and the film relies almost exclusively on the actors to deliver the lines as best they can.
Cyrus is a rather mediocre hybrid of mainstream and independent cinema. This type of filmmaking is called “mumblecore”, a form that consists of low budget production usually featuring digital video cameras, tales of interpersonal relationships, and improvisation among the actors. Mumblecore cinema became popular in the 21st century with films like the Duplass brothers’ The Puffy Chair, and Baghead. The stars of Cyrus are of high enough caliber however the direction and writing are somewhat lacking. When watching the film, one can’t help but hope for the actors to salvage this lame film. The acting is good but not great and that is the movie’s only redeeming quality. The story feels all too familiar and the shaky camera seems a tad pretentious as if trying too hard to be hip and cool. For the most part, it just comes off as annoying. The film kind of wanders for a while without really knowing which direction to go in, comedic or dramatic and this creates a somewhat uncomfortable viewing experience.
I’m not a really big fan of Cyrus however I’m somewhat confident that the film will eventually find something of a cult following. It has all the ingredients of a quirky indie movie that will do rather well in home Blu-ray collections. While not a perfect film, Cyrus has a strong cast that performs very well. The romance between Reilly and Tomei’s characters is appealing, and endearing enough to hold one’s attention, and Hill’s ominous performance as the titular character may attract some viewers.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for Cyrus are rather good. They include a few deleted scenes, a Q&A with directors/writers Jay & Mark Duplass. There is a music mash-up with stars John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill. There are three featurettes. The first one is called Behind the Scenes at SXSW with Jay & Mark Duplass, and the other two are called Fox Movie Channel presents: In Character with John C. Reilly, and another with Jonah Hill.