Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Movie Review - Cyrus

Cyrus - ***

Directed by: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Starring: John C. Reilly, Marissa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener

Review: It’s often times refreshing to see a new take on a story/formula that is not so new. Cyrus takes a tried and true formula and rehashes it in a refreshing way. We’ve all seen the storyline of the single mom and the child who is so attached they won’t let in a new man to take up the mantle as the “new dad” (I seem to remember a ‘Man of the House’ movie starring Chevy Chase, Farah Fawcett, and of course, Jonathan Taylor Thomas back in the day, but I digress). This formula leans heavily toward the shtick and can lend itself to somewhat comical, but mostly over the top nonsense. Cyrus doesn’t go that route.

Instead of focusing on the child and making the “new dad” the lovable villain, Cyrus goes the other way and focuses on the “new dad,” making the kid the villain. But here’s the real kicker, he’s no kid at all, Cyrus in this movie is “21, almost 22 years old.” This presents a much different dynamic for the ensuing relationship between Cyrus (played by Jonah Hill), John (John C. Reilly) and Molly (Marissa Tomei).

Cyrus is your consummate coddled adult. His mother protected him from pretty much everything in his life and as a result he has turned into an overly protective socially awkward child afraid of new things and new people. He has had an uninterrupted relationship with his mother for his entire life and a new man being introduced only serves to prevent the relationship from continuing as he knows it. As usual, this means war on John conducted by Cyrus.

This is where the movie has to deal with the danger of slipping off the deep end and moving into slapstick. However, these actors and filmmakers are too talented to let that happen. The ensuing battle between John and Cyrus remains at the same time funny and believable. The filmmakers do a good job of showing sympathy for both sides in this struggle. This is where most of the movie takes place and it makes it enjoyable to watch.

The usual suspects provide solid performances. John C. Reilly, Marissa Tomei, and Catherine Keener are actors that don’t get enough credit for what they do. Even though all have been up for Oscars and Tomei has actually won nobody seems to recognize that they are all great actors who only honed their craft with age.

However, the real treasure of this movie is Jonah Hill. His portrayal of Cyrus is heartfelt and sympathetic and I think he definitely deserves Oscar consideration. The Academy would never be as bold as to do something like that but it is definitely deserving. While mostly comical in his past performances Hill shows a great range and a depth of acting skill I had no idea he was capable of. This makes me excited for the possible future of Hill and his career. I imagine he has a career that follows similar to John C. Reilly’s.

Ultimately, this movie is worth your time, but be warned, it is a little bit different than you would expect from the trailer and carries with it a bit more of a dramatic punch than you would think.

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