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The marketing for this movie is terribly misleading. It sells it as a
zany comedy, which could not be farther from the truth. I'm not
criticizing the film -- I thought it was quite good. But people are
going to see this expecting something very different from what they
get, and they're going to hold it unfairly against the film.
"Cyrus" is being billed as the first mainstream effort by mumblecore darling filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass ("Baghead"). But "Cyrus" is only mainstream in that it's released by a major studio (Fox Searchlight) and has recognizable actors in it (John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener). In subject and style, it imports many of the characteristics of traditional mumblecore -- offbeat humor, improvised feel, bare bones production values -- wholesale.
Which again is not a criticism. I've been impressed with some of the mumblecore entries I've seen recently, like the aforementioned "Baghead" and "Humpday." "Cyrus" is a complex exploration of an odd and at times uncomfortable set up, and that it doesn't take a glib or condescending attitude toward its characters or devolve into potty jokes and slapstick couldn't make it less mainstream.
Reilly plays a lonely man looking for love and finding it in Marisa Tomei. Unfortunately, with her he also finds Cyrus, her twenty-something and morbidly dependent son. He tries to be a buddy at first, until it's clear that Cyrus isn't all that he appears and doesn't want a new guy around. The two men declare war on one another until fists fly, both figuratively and literally.
"Cyrus" is a small miracle of tone. It keeps its audience constantly guessing as to which direction it's going to go. The weird mother/son relationship depicted is at first just funny, then funny in a kind of squirmy way, then flat out disturbing. But the film knows exactly when it's about to push credibility too far, and just before it does, it lets us in on more information that makes everything plausible. One of the things I responded to most is the respect with which the actors and writers treat these characters. These people are not put on display for us to mock, or feel superior to, or pity. These are people who are trying their best to navigate tricky emotional terrain in the best way they know how, and the actors playing them all give lovely performances.
A smart, witty and thoughtful film in a season of cinematic junk food.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went into this film expecting an edgy, funny film of one-upsmanship
between a man who's fallen in love and the far-too-attached son of his
intended. I mean face it, the premise is filled with possibilities, and
the trailers suggested we should go in ready to laugh. Not so. What I
witnessed was a film that tossed aside every comic opportunity and
settled instead for a kind of after school special about coming to
terms with your mom's boyfriend. Hugely disappointing to see such good
actors wasted on what could have been a sharp and insightful story,
rife with opportunities for humor.
I heard John C. Reilly give an interview where he said there was a great deal of improv in the film and he was grateful for the opportunity to create his own vision. Nice for him, but boring for the audience -- the dialog was clichéd and unfocused, the story rambled along with no dramatic or comedic tension, and all that improv forced some very clumsy editing. Not saying the acting wasn't good, it was. Marisa Tomei did the best she could with a character who had no back story, no convincing explanation for why she's fallen in love with the drunken lout peeing in the bushes at a party, no exploration of why she's created this hugely dependent son or why she's had no one in her life since her son was born 21 year ago! It was enough for the film makers that she was hot, and they pretty must left her to figure out the rest. John C. Reilly is a good actor but I'm really tired of seeing ugly losers score the great looking girl, it's doesn't happen in life unless you're rich and this guy is not only not rich he seems almost unemployable. Catherine Keener plays his ex-wife, and there was an opportunity to draw a parallel between his dependence on her and Jonah Hill's dependence on his mother. They dropped it like a hot potato. Too interesting, I suppose.
The cinematography drove me nuts. Restless cameras with overused snap-zooms irritate the hell out of me, and this DP never missed an opportunity to snap-zoom. It was like watching a commercial. Ms. Tomei was also lit very unfortunately a number of times, which I suppose is forgivable in a low budget film but regrettable all the same.
I am bewildered by the praise that's been heaped on this film. I suspect people are so happy to see something that isn't 3D or nonstop violence or gross-out humor that they are taking pains to be kind. I too want to encourage thoughtful films with clever plots and unexpected humor. This isn't one of them.
If you have followed the fantastic rise of the brothers Duplass from
their early no budget shorts film days to their breakout low budget
Sundance hit Puffy Chair and the equally good follow-up Baghead then
you likely had to wonder what kind of movie they were making in Cyrus;
which in contrast to the other movies appears to have considerable
industry financial backing and bona fide Hollywood stars. The main
concern here is that the brothers other movies are distinctly low
budget and free wheeling (AKA "Mumblecore" indie movement), thats what
makes them great in many ways and lets be honest the expectations for
those first two movies were nil. When you aren't expecting a lot and
get something pretty good back in return its going to seem really
great. In Cyrus their are expectations, one only needs to see their
prime opening Saturday night premier at Sundance to see just how far
these guys have come. That works out pretty well though for the
brothers, because they deliver a great film. Cyrus is distinctly indie
and personal but isn't so much so that it scares off the mainstream.
Cyrus is the story of a lonely divorcée John (John C. Reilly), who upon finding about his ex-wife's (Catherine Keener) impending nuptials has the unlikely fortune of getting caught with his pants down in a drunken act of buffoonery by the enchanting Molly (Marisa Tomei). Strangely enough Molly isn't frigthened off by John's drunken antics and heartfelt lonely ramblings which she finds endearing and honest. A bit of romance ensues and as John pursues further he eventually comes to find out that Molly has a 21 year old son who lives at home with her and has an oddly close relationship with his mother. John being the good guy that he is tries to make the best of the situation before Cyrus makes life a complete living hell for John and a bizarre rivalry ensues that will try the relationship of boyfriend, mother and son.
John C Reilly has always had a great gift at humor and that is no different here, him and Jonah Hill have a brilliant comedic dynamic that at times is beautifully subtle and other times in your face. What might be the Duplass trademark is the way they bring out real honesty in the performances by all three stars. Reilly gives one of his best performances and Jonah Hill has easily his best here. It is hard to say underrated but has Marisa Tomei ever not been stellar in the last few years? . Her performance is the glue that holds together the movie, with the insanity revolving around her character is believably sweet and endearing.
Cyrus undoubtedly will be compared to the works of Judd Apatow, this isn't unwarranted but in truth the Apatow films feel much bigger and less personal then Cyrus and maybe have a bit less heart. We will have to wait and see if the mainstream audiences is eager to give the Duplass brand of comedy a shot, but regardless this looks like the beginning of something much bigger.
'Cyrus' is one of those stories about an otherwise promising new
relationship threatened by the cumbersome excess baggage one person
brings along. In this case that baggage is another human being: a big,
fat adult child called Cyrus (Jonah Hill), who, at twenty, still lives
with his mother, with whom he's so close it's almost incestuous. With
this movie the Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, who wrote and directed,
move away from their former territory of the micro-budget indie
film-making group known as Mumblcore, into the realm of an Apatow
comedy. Jonah Hill, of 'Knocked Up' and 'Superbad,'as well as the
current 'Get Him to the Greek,'is a mainstay of the Apatow stable. This
time the schlub he's playing isn't looking to get laid, only to keep
his mom from doing so; and he plays it straight this time, not for
laughs. This becomes a movie about stasis. And it also remains stuck
between two genres. Some sparks fly, and the audience enjoys that, but
somehow this ends by seeming something of a missed opportunity. It's
neither a trail-blazing drama, nor a riotous comedy. It's just a big
tease. The dangerous, obstructive situation is something the filmmakers
play with successfully for an hour or so, and then don't seem to know
what to do with. And the action just fizzles out.
Mumblecore tends to deal with twenty- or thirty-somethings' mating games and job dilemmas depicted in dialogue that feels rough and improvised. This time things are totally different because the Duplass brothers are working with famous actors. 'Cyrus' keeps things simple, but it's very sure of itself -- except that it doesn't finally decide where to go. It lacks the authentic flavor of Mumblcore, and it's not broadly drawn or funny enough for Apatow; what's more, it lacks the final sense of resolution of comedy. 'Cyrus' has a very forceful series of scenes, but they develop the situation only up to a point.
People laugh watching 'Cyrus,' but it doesn't try to be funny so much as embarrassing. It verges on the Todd Solondz-lite of Mike White, whose funny-peculiar, funny-creepy edge it duplicates; but it lacks White's droll range of characters.
John (John C. Reilly) is a lonely Guy, seven years divorced and still unable to move on. (Reilly gives John his usual warmth, but the writing doesn't flesh him out.) He relies a lot (abnormally much, in fact -- he's odd too) on his ex-wife and co-worker Jamie (the always suave Catherine Keener), who's about to get married. At Jamie's urging, John goes to a party and he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) and magically they immediately hit it off and she goes home with him. But she leaves in the night. And she does that again when she comes back for a date.
We soon find out why. Molly's unnaturally tied to Cyrus, her large, rotund twenty-year-old son who still lives with her. It's not clear if Cyrus actually does anything; he composes synthesizer music. Even the composing Molly shares in. He is not in school. He never calls his mother "mother," always "Molly."
The awkwardness of the situation keeps you watching. With John at Molly's house for their second evening together, Cyrus goes into the bathroom while his mother is taking a shower, thus signaling their inappropriate (and for John threatening) intimacy. Later that night when John has stayed over and he and Molly are asleep, Cyrus has a screaming fit that awakens them, and Molly runs to comfort him. It's clearly impossible for John and Molly to have private time together. Any sane man would run from this situation, but we understand John's neediness. For seven years he's been alone, and at last he's found a woman he really likes who likes him. What a pity!
Things go back and forth, but there's no real resolution. 'Cyrus' the movie is as narrow as it is effective -- up to a point. The strong, polished actors contrast with the obtrusive in-and-out zoom of the Duplasses' hand-held camera, which here feels annoying and unnecessary. It's an obtrusive holdover from the brothers' previous low-budget indie work. Only here the tentativeness and naturalism are gone. There's something slick about the movie. It has another obtrusive tic: whenever Molly and John make declarations to each other about their feelings, we see them together, but the lines are in voice-over, as if anything romantic is merely tacked-on.
John could hardly be unaware of how huge a threat Cyrus is to his connecting with Molly, and vice versa, but at first John and Cyrus circle around each other politely with nothing untoward happening except the odd disappearance of an essential piece of clothing. But after a while longer something slips and the gloves are off. Cyrus seems dangerous, potentially unhinged as well as incestuous. But he and John are both cowardly lions, not strong or mean enough to go over the top. If one of them did, things might not end up so muddled.
The movie seems afraid to carry things all the way. It lacks an edge, and its resolution is soft and fuzzy. While in this it's like Mumblecore films, which tend just to end, such an approach doesn't suit comedy. 'Cyrus' ventures far out of Mumblecore territory -- without entering anywhere else very definite. The result is far from a total loss. The film-making is solidly competent, the scenes are clearly -- perhaps too clearly -- written; the cast is fine. Cyrus is worthy of our attention, even though it ultimately somewhat disappoints, winding up with neither its dilemma nor its characters fully developed. This would be only a small fraction of a Mike Leigh film, and it would be resolved. The Duplass brothers are lazy filmmakers. They haven't at all got the keen observation of Andrew Bujalski.
i just watched Cyrus. fantastic film. Every review I've read so far has called this film a comedy. nothing could be farther from the truth. this is a dramatic film with a few (very few) comedic elements. Hill should be recognized for his dramatic role. I didn't find this movie funny at all. I thought it was a very interesting depiction of the new love triangle, between a child, a mother, and her love interest. No doubt this movie took the relationship between single mother and her child to the extreme it represents a dynamic that has existed for at least a generation and is becoming the norm. Jonah, Marisa, and John play these roles with a truth and simplicity that is palpable. They do the subject justice.
Cyrus isn't really a comedy, though I wouldn't blame you if you have
that impression before seeing the movie. Both Jonah Hill and John C.
Reilly have been in a lot of comedies lately (though Reilly is fairly
well-known for more serious movies like Magnolia and Boogie Nights),
and the trailer doesn't do much to dissuade that notion. It does have
some parts that are quite funny, but it gets more serious as the movie
goes on, and is quite touching and raw at times.
The story is about a divorced, lonely man (Reilly) who meets a seemingly perfect woman (Marisa Tomei). The only problem is that she has a live-in adult son Cyrus (Hill), and they're co-dependent on each other to the degree that Cyrus instantly hates the new man who (in his mind) is going to take his mother away. His solution is to sabotage their relationship.
That sounds like the set-up for a broad comedy in the vein of Step-Brothers, but Cyrus sticks fairly close to its indie sensibilities. It's filmed in an almost documentary-type manner, the situations never really get too over-the-top or absurd, and the relationships remain the focus of the movie, throughout. The issues of co-dependency and parents and adult children having a hard time letting go of each other is treated pretty seriously.
Cyrus was one of my most anticipated movies of 2010, and while I can't say it was as great as I hoped it would be, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the tone it struck. I say keep an open mind and check it out.
"It's great to have a new dad." Cyrus to John
If your girlfriend has a grown son living at home, see Cyrus; if you have one living with you, see it. For the rest of us, see Cyrus to enjoy American ensemble acting at its best: Molly (Marisa Tomei) and her 21-year old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill), live in a very close relationship short of Oedipal but too close for either's growth.
The Duplass brothers, known for their quirky, loose film-making that includes restless shots and "mumblecore" style (the actors mostly improvise), have allowed these accomplished actors to express themselves in a realistic and charming way. While the plot seems episodic and unfocused, it is really a character-driven story with Molly the least developed of the characters.
The story's protagonist is John (John C. Reilly), a hang dog editor whose ex-wife is getting married and to whom Molly comes with the promise of a new life. Except for Cyrus, whose unusual attachment to his mom causes him to wage domestic war against John. While nothing unpredictable happens, and that is a flaw, the acting is first rate and the situations so believable (except for the oedipal hint) that this American comedy can be enjoyed for its European-style close-ups and lengthy scenes. The clichéd ending is to be endured with regret.
If you are still hooked on your ex-wife and have a girlfriend with a kid, see this film. If you're not, then enjoy the realism of story and acting. Although the Duplasses tend to move the lens abruptly from medium to tight, thereby emphasizing the personal nature of the film, rarely does American cinema get it right without CGI and rapid cutting. This is the right stuff.
Walking down Henry Street on a Saturday afternoon, a particular type of
teenager can be spotted. They shuffle from shop to shop, overweight,
insecure and accompanied by their Mammy. We now have a name for them;
Sad sack John (John C. Reilly) has never really gotten over his ex wife. His dependency on her, seven years after their divorce, is still obvious, so he decides its time to start looking for someone new. The fact that he has a face thats a cross between Beethoven and Shrek doesn't really help his chances but, against the odds, he manages to find the beautiful Molly (Marisa Tomei). All goes swimmingly at first, until John meets Cyrus. Mollys 20-year-old unemployed son Cyrus is morbidly obese and morbidly dependant on her. Their relationship is a little, shall we say, a little Oedipal. Scrap that, a lot Oedipal. Obviously Cyrus isn't going to take to well to his 'new Dad' but what follows is a subtle masterclass in passive aggressive one-up-manship.
In the wrong hands Cyrus could have been 90 minutes of breast feeding gags and a series of Jackass-style pranks. Luckily for us we are dealing with Jay and Mark Duplass, the golden boys of 'Mumblecore'. For those unfamiliar with the sub genre, 'Mumblecore' refers to a film movement which came out of North America at the turn of the millennium. The films are all made on micro budgets, focus on the relationships of twenty-somethings and rely on improvisation. Basically they are the bastard children of Slackers and Woody Allen's Manhattan.This is the first outing for the Duplass brothers with a reasonable budget and some well known faces. Thankfully they've retained their indie cinema sensibilties and understand the elements that made their early work enjoyable. The dialogue is still mainly improvised and the camera work is still mostly hand-held and makes use of a lot of snap-zoom. Cyrus has been marketed as a comedy and there are laughs scattered throughout, the humour however is closer to the Coen brothers than Judd Apatow. However it's the dramatic elements of the narrative that really give the cast something to get their teeth into. John C. Reilly here echoes his performance in Paul T. Anderson's Magnolia. Both characters are essentially losers, but there's something undeniably likable and sweet about them. Jonah Hill as the titular character really impresses. Fears that he would forever be typecast as a ranty, horny chubby funster are alleviated. He knows how to take a scene forward, he knows when to be serious and most importantly he knows that subtlety can often be far funnier than farce.
Many many people will hate Cyrus and I can see why, the camera work is distracting at times, the subject matter is often dark and the laughs are few and far between. These people probably went in expecting Superbad mixed with some of the fart gags from Step Brothers. For me though, this marks the start of something big for Jay and Mark Duplass.
Cyrus, is a comedic drama that focuses on a divorced man, John (John C. Reilly), meeting the woman of his dreams, Molly (Marisa Tomei), and falling hard for her at a party, subsequently later meeting her grown up son, Cyrus, played by Jonah Hill. The movie was produced by Scott Free Productions, Ridley Scott's production company, and distributed domestically by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Jay and Mark Duplass are the creative minds behind the writing and directing of the picture, and Jas Shelton is the guy responsible for the shaky camera work prevalent throughout the movie. So, now that your familiarized with some of the players lets get down to brass tax.
This movie isn't what many will expect from the trailers, it's a semi- dark, dramedy that examines an unhealthy co-dependency between a mother and her twenty-something year old son, Cyrus. The trailers might have you believe you'll be watching a combination of Step Brothers and The Forty Year Old Virgin, but that isn't really the case. It's definitely much lighter in laughs than I expected, but it exposes some compelling emotional acting from Reilly and Hill that will certainly have critics applauding the "heart" of the film.
Jonah Hill adds further evidence to the case that he wants to break away from being typecast as the chubby, silly, practical joker, and delivers a much more serious performance in this film (Although, I wasn't so easily convinced by his more serious role in this movie, and found myself laughing out loud at times when that was definitely not the intended audience reaction). Reilly is near perfect at bringing vulnerability and desperation to his character, and he further demonstrates his prowess of making an audience laugh on several occasions. Tomei, also gives a memorable performance blending the ability to blindly see no wrong in her son while showing the desire to balance multiple relationships in order to make things work for a forty- something year old single mom (My apologies for how garbled that sounds, but it took too long to get out, so it stays). Catherine Keener turns in a good performance as a supportive ex-wife, that maybe should do better at creating borders between former partners. Matt Walsh, who plays her husband, gave a perfectly sarcastic depiction of the fiancé, who loves his future wife enough to put up with her sometimes idiotic, overly needy ex-husbands constant needs.
Overall, Cyrus, is a funny movie that might not be what moviegoers are expecting to see going into it, but it's emotional ups and downs, interesting subject material, clever improvisation, and great acting are enough to satisfy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Why I am even writing a review on this "movie"? I guess because I feel
I should do the world a public service by not make anyone in their
right mind waste an hour and 1/2 of their life on this dump heap. So,
I had the opportunity to watch the great and wonderful Cyrus over the weekend with a buddy of mine, and needless to say, we were expecting the ever funny Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly to come out blazing with a barrel of laughs about a battle of wits and shenanigans between new boyfriend and passive aggressive, bastard son Cyrus,fighting over Molly (Marisa Tomei)...in which she plays Cyrus's odd,immature mother. In essence, we thought this was going to be a COMEDY. WE WERE WRONG.
As it turns out, the only funny thing about this movie happens to be the irony that the directors (the Duplass Bros.) who apparently have about as much skill and qualification at making movies as a person who works the snack bar at the local bowling alley, actually got signed on to make a full production film. The joke was on us...Bravo Duplass siblings, you just disappointed the world.
So here is the story, and yes, it contains spoilers, but tough sh*t, I'm doing you a favor. We got a guy named John (Reilly), who is a burnt out, worthless slob of a man who got dumped and divorced 7 years prior by his now ex wife (Catherine Keener)..probably due to his personality, which resembles that of a wet mop left behind a toilet in a summer camp outhouse. And he still cant shake her, as we shortly find out after the ex wife walks in on him cranking one out with is pants down, which he of course uses "jock itch" as the excuse. Already the brown stain of Reilly's improv skills shows its true colors, right off the bat. So anyway, Keener and her new husband feel bad for John and decide to bring him to a house party, hopefully to have him meet some new people and ultimately get him laid. After getting overly drunk, he proceeds to dance like an complete A-hole and make a fool of himself to the song "Dont you want me" by Human League. No John, no one wants you. Not even Mama Cass, and shes dead. BUT WAIT!! after deciding to urinate on the outside patio tree with no remorse, along comes Molly(Tomei)and blurts out "nice penis" I guess this is how the Duplass duo interprets comedy, because this is probably the ONLY funny part in the movie. So from there its love at first sight and of course the still hot Tomei unrealistically has the hots for John *queue the Beauty and the Beast cliché* and they hit it off, enough to become an item...so much that Molly sleeps with John that night after the party..Go john!
Now after some strange behavior from Molly that throws John for a loop, he decides to follow her home where he proceeds to stalk around her house like a peeping tom. This is where we meet Cyrus,Molly's vapid, rotund, and hard to look at son played by Hill, who you may recall having a penis drawing addiction in Superbad ( a real comedy)
Anyway his character in this crap-fest is a weird, awkward, needy and deceiving individual, who basically has an Oedipus Rex syndrome fascination for his mom. I mean seriously, get a grip Cyrus. I expected to next see him walking around in a diaper with a binky in his mouth.
The rest of the movie consists of a tension between John and Cyrus...at one point Cyrus, the great lard-ass deceiver, triumphantly hides Johns shoes in closet which John later finds out and makes a big stink of "what are you going to hide next on me, my f*&king belt?" I take this as the crappy climax to the film (btw, my buddy had already fallen asleep on the couch, woke up and headed for bed, but I had to be the glutton for punishment, staying awake to watch the whole thing, refusing to believe that a movie could be so utterly worthless). So Molly finds out and blames the situation on Cyrus's clingy upbringing and her own over-bearingness to the morbidly obese brat, who at this point you feel like taking out to the parking lot and slapping the Man-gina out of him. John cant take it anymore, moves back to a dumpy apartment and tries to go back to his sad existence curing his jock itch. Molly, finally growing a pair tells Cyrus to buck up and start acting like an adult. Cyrus goes back to John to beg for him back, but not before getting drunk at a wedding and wrestling John to the ground and saying "leave us the f*&k alone!!!" I am sorry, was I supposed to shed a tear at this scene? because instead I just stared at the screen in amazement that this movie was still even playing in front of me and hadn't done something more productive with myself, like for instance, taking a dump or popping that pesky zit.
So the movie ends abruptly, like most "indy" ones tend to do pretentiously, hoping to leave you with a sense of wonder and the begging of question "oh no, did John work it out?" "I hope Cyrus worked out his problems" or "Molly was such a deep character, she must of had some underlying problems of why she sheltered Cyrus"
Samantics. a movie with a identity problem, filled with boring dialogue, mixed in with want-to-be profound shaky camera and zoom in and out over and over that would even make Andy frigging Warhol want to put a gun to his head.
that is my review of Cyrus. Now excuse me, I have more important things to do, like cleaning out the cat box.
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