“Cyrus” Movie Review

     Jonah Hill has already made his mark this summer in the very funny comedy “Get Him to the Greek.”  He seems to have a knack to play off his co stars and in many ways, make them better.  He did so with Russell Brand and Sean Combs and he has done it again with John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei in his latest summer offering “Cyrus.”  As a low budget indie film, Cyrus hits the mark with a solid script and fine acting by three of hollywood’s best.

     When we meet John (John C. Reilly), he is a depressed, unhappy man who has been divorced for 7 years.  The film begins with his ex wife Jamie, played by Catherine Keener, convincing him to go to a party and interact with new women.  You immediately realize John is not over his ex wife.  At the party, John meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) and they hit it off, which leads to a new relationship.  Enter Cyrus (Jonah Hill) who sets off a string of events designed to keep John from wanting to date his mother, Molly.  Cyrus is 22 years old, fatherless, and very dysfunctional.  He is attached to Molly in ways a 22 year old probably shouldn’t be, but he is smart enough to carry out his scheme without his mother suspecting. 

     Whereas some comedies hit you with laughs by utilizing raunchy jokes and sight gags, Cyrus creates a comic situation and mood which runs non stop for 90 minutes.  It is this mood, sometimes one of uneasiness, others where you don’t know what will happen next, which sets the film apart.  One of the initial scenes with Cyrus and John has them face to face for the first time with Cyrus performing an electronic concert for John.  You can tell John doesn’t want to make a bad impression on Cyrus and you can also tell Cyrus knows he is making John feel uncomfortable.  There is no snappy dialogue here, just an awkward situation made possible by the talents of the two actors.  This film is loaded with scenes like this. 

     In another scene, John and Cyrus are alone in his room without Molly and John decides to confront Cyrus on his obvious plan to get rid of him.  John lashes out at Cyrus, saying exactly what is on his mind (I’ll bet it felt good to do that), but Cyrus knows it doesn’t matter because he is holding all of the cards. Mom will certainly choose  him and kick John to the curb. John knows this too and when Molly suddenly walks into the room, the cuss word filled conversation quickly turns into John embracing Cyrus with a hug and mom thinking all is well. Classic and also typical.

     A lot is owed to the superb writing and directing team of Jay and Mark Duplass as they set the tone from the beginning to the end.  They chose to shoot their film in more of a documentary style with an abundance of natural lighting.  I thought these decisions gave the film a great setting and a very real feel.  Their characters are as real as can be with nothing going over the top.  Indie films like these are always a refreshing break from the usual summer fare we are exposed to.  There is no Hollywood ending, just a realistic resolution to what I felt was a very funny story.

     Sometimes its amazing to think how far some of these actors have come.  How long ago was it that Marisa Tomei was winning an Oscar for “My Cousin Vinny” or John C. Reilly playing along side Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox in “Casualties of War”?  How about Jonah Hill in “Superbad”?  As all three have done in the recent past, they have gone back to their indie roots and doing so pays a dividend here, to us the audience.  GRADE: B+