Who's In It: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh
The Basics: John (John C. Reilly) is a lonely bachelor whose best friends are his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) and her fiancé (Matt Walsh). One night at a party, John hits it off with Molly (Marisa Tomei), the woman of his dreams, and the two start dating. Things start getting serious in a matter of days until John meets Cyrus (Jonah Hill), Molly's intelligent but overly attached 21-year-old son. As John tries to grow his relationship with Molly, he begins to suspect that Cyrus isn't as friendly as he seems, and that there may only be room in Molly's life for one emotionally clingy man-child.
What's The Deal: Handheld cameras, highly improvised dialogue, a heavy emphasis on relationships -- writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair) will inevitably bring the so-called "mumblecore" mark to any project until they fully leave the indie scene behind, although casting Cyrus with name stars is certainly a step towards mainstream moviemaking notice. Cyrus gets off to a great start, setting both the tone and John's arc quite clearly; as soon as Tomei's Molly joins John in belting out a Human League single at a crowded party, you're rooting for their beauty and beast pairing to work and wondering in what quirky, unexpected ways the story will shake out. Then John meets Cyrus, and the focus shifts to a battle of wills between the two competing men. Unfortunately, after a few too many awkward jokes and flat exchanges of earnest improvised dialogue, Cyrus begins to feel exactly like all those indie movies we desperately hoped it wouldn't turn out to be like: quirky, talky, and yawn-inducingly familiar.
Jonah Hill Is Good At Making
People John C. Reilly Me Uncomfortable: This isn't your average broad and obvious comedy, so the best jokes unfold via Jonah Hill's straight-faced, delightfully creepy performance. There's the slightly inappropriate way Cyrus and his mom talk to each other ("You deserve someone who can love you the way I can't love you," he tells her). The subtle psychological tricks he plays on John. The New Age-y, abstract synth music Cyrus very seriously spends his time composing. Hill plays weird so well that the audience, like John, can't quite figure him out until he makes his true feelings known halfway through the film.
Cyrus, Meet Kettle: At first, Cyrus poked fun at the pretentious. Then it became pretentious itself. It wasn't so much the film's desire to be all warm and fuzzy with its message of letting go and letting people in -- more the art school editing and abstract layering of conversations and tidy revelations that led Cyrus to its predictable conclusion. After pointing out the ridiculousness of Cyrus finding musical inspiration in his daily nature photography walks with Molly, the Duplass brothers lose themselves in the same sort of indulgence.
How Cyrus Is Like Blade Runner and The A-Team: It was executive produced by the least indie brother duo in Hollywood, Ridley and Tony Scott. Look for more explosions, sweeping cinematography, and kinetic camera work in Cyrus 2.