Friday, June 25, 2010


Written and Directed by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
Starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener

John: I know you’re not supposed to say this but I really like you.  Is it crazy for me to say I want it to work out?
Love is tricky to figure out, to piece together so that it actually works out for all parties involved.  Love is particularly tricky when you’re middle-aged, have been single for seven years, you’re not really so impressive on paper or in person and the object of your affections is in something of an unhealthy relationship with her 22-year-old-son.  Yes, this is what makes love tricky in our modern existence but it is also what makes love oh so rewarding if you manage to get through it.  Furthermore, in this particular case, it makes for the perfect comedic setup for the new Duplass brothers comedy, CYRUS, the summer’s first great indie-comedy.

John C. Reilly makes a fine return to the screen in a more complex, character-based role than he has played in recent memory.  John, which is his name in the film and not a casual form of address for the actor, is seven years divorced and still hanging on to that relationship.  As a result, he doesn’t do much outside of the house and dating is about as foreign a concept to him as a single sit-up must be given the state of his physique.  Without wasting any time on showing us scene after scene to prove what a lonely loser John really is, writers/directors, Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, introduce John to Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party his soon-to-be-remarried ex-wife (Catherine Keener) drags him to.  They hit it off instantly which begs the question, what’s wrong with this girl?

As it turns out, she is quite lovely and she and John fall for each just like that.  Just because she’s lovely though doesn’t mean she isn’t hiding plenty of ugly behind your back.  The ugly I’m talking about here is Jonah Hill.  I’m kidding; the actual ugly is the unhealthily close relationship she has with her son, Cyrus, played by the also lovely, Hill.  Seriously, I actually think he’s hilarious.  I’m not sure I wanted to see Hill or Reilly in so many high definition close-ups but it does help you see that they are not so dissimilar.  This might be one good explanation why Cyrus makes it his personal mission to ensure John and Molly do not succeed as a couple despite the fact that they are both so much happier now that they’ve met.

The beauty of CYRUS, and there is a lot of it, is the natural way in which the Duplass brothers bring everything together perfectly.  A sharp, subtle script, in which Cyrus and John battle intelligently instead of declaring war on each other in some farcical sense, is embodied seamlessly by a pitch perfect cast.  Safe for a fairly conventional conclusion, the Dulplass brothers prove that real situations can be shown for the difficult messes they are and still be incredibly funny at the same time.

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