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With John's social life at a standstill and his ex-wife about to get remarried, a down on his luck divorcee finally meets the woman of his dreams, only to discover she has another man in her life – her son.
For more about Cyrus and the Cyrus Blu-ray release, see Cyrus Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on December 16, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh, Diane Mizota
Directors: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
» See full cast & crew
Cyrus Blu-ray Review
The most intentionally awkward rom-com in recent memory.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 16, 2010
Brothers, co-writers, and co-directors Mark and Jay Duplass (Baghead, The Puffy Chair) are founding members of the barely-there American indie movie movement that has since come to be called "mumblecore." The emphasis here is on a low-budget D.I.Y. aesthetic, often coupled with dialogue-driven narratives about awkward interpersonal relations amongst the hip, young, and/or restless. The sub-genre has a tendency toward the fey and perhaps overly twee, a quality that can alienate more mainstream audiences and send critics into either dismissive tirades or overzealous proclamations about the bright future of American independent film. In short, it's divisive. And so is the latest movie from the Duplass bros, Cyrus, a film that seems likely to be misconstrued by the multiplex crowd. The picture stars John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, which may mistakenly cause some to assume that Cyrus is a Step Brothers-esque laugh-out-loud romp or raunchy, Judd Apatow- style farce. In reality, the film is a quiet drama/comedy—dram-com?—about dependence and psychological manipulation, a bizarre love triangle between a broken mom, an obsessive son, and a sad-sack potential step-dad.
John C. Reilly plays said sad-sack, John, a down-and-out divorcee who's never fully gotten over the split with his ex, Jamie (Catherine Keener), seven years ago. She's still his best and only friend, but at the beginning of the film she drops by unannounced—catching him red-handed, so to speak, in the act of pleasuring himself—to tell him that she's getting married. To soften the blow, she invites him to a party and urges him to get back into the dating game. After one too many Red Bull/vodka cocktails, John finds a homely, approachable woman to talk to at the gathering and blurts out his dilemma: he's depressed but deep down he knows he's not a depressing person. He has loads to offer. He just needs to find the right person. "I have to make a phone call," the woman says, politely excusing herself.
Mousy partygoer Molly (Marisa Tomei) overhears this admission, however, and after she spies him peeing in the bushes outside—it's the second time he's been caught with his pants down—she strikes up a flirty conversation. ("Nice penis," she begins, diffusing the awkwardness of the situation.) Soon, they're in a fledgling romance. He trades in his bachelor's uniform of sweat pants and a t-shirt for real clothes, tidies up his pad, and cooks her a proper meal. "I just decided to give it my all, which is not the cool guy thing to do," he says. But she doesn't want a "cool guy." She wants him, even though her life is "really complicated right now."
This is an understatement. What Molly doesn't tell John is that she lives with her 21-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill), a doughy, over-coddled man- child with separation anxiety who seems determined to never leave the nest. Their relationship borders on Oedipal; he's comfortable seeing her shower, and she sleeps in his room whenever he has panic attacks. They go for arm-in-arm walks in the park together—as lovers would—and generally display all the hallmarks of co-dependency, filling the void in one another's lives left by the shared absence of a father/husband figure.
When John's sudden intrusion turns this happy twosome into an uncomfortable threesome, Cyrus starts a cold war of passive aggressive emotional manipulation, playing wounded for his mom and using his wiles to put a wedge between John and Molly. Not to put it too crassly, but Cyrus basically acts like a creepy little shit, subversively hiding John's shoes, showing up unexpectedly while John and Molly are trying to be intimate, and throwing a major tantrum at Jamie's wedding. John would like to punch him in the face. We want John to punch him in the face. But John feels like he needs to keep up a guise with Molly as well, pretending that everything is okay between him and her sneaky bastard of a son.
The three leads mine the discomfiture of each scene for painful humor and veins of emotional honesty. Jonah Hill usually plays some kind of smartass sidekick, a source of crude one-liners and sardonic put-downs, but here, we get to see him stretch himself as an actor. As Cyrus, he wears a cold, deadpan glower and a fake smile, but beneath you can see the insecurity of a mama's boy anticipating the collapse of his sheltered existence. It's the fullest, most complex role he's had yet. Of course, Reilly and Tomei are consummate pros. I never get tired of Reilly as a sad-clown sort—his face is the visual definition of pathos—and Tomei convinces as a woman whose entire life has, up until now, been devoted to her son.
The characters are well written and fully developed, odd without becoming caricatures. Each has something to lose. John doesn't want to end up alone again. Cyrus doesn't want to lose his mother's affections. And Molly, caught in the middle, wants a healthy relationship with John, but doesn't want to alienate her son. It's an emotional minefield, and the film traverses it carefully—and cleverly—saving the big blowup for the climax, which gives us a newfound empathy for Cyrus, who finally admits that he's a "f---ed up and dysfunctional person." There's comedy here too—with Hill and Reilly improvising, how couldn't there be?—but it's of the quieter observational variety, arising naturally out of the situational unease. Those expecting the next Get Him to the Greek will be disappointed; those looking for a subtle adult drama with comic overtones will not.
Cyrus Blu-ray, Video Quality
Although, at a cost of $7 million, Cyrus sports a bigger budget than most "mumblecore" productions, the movie still sticks to a quick 'n' cheap handheld visual aesthetic that works well for the intimacy of the story, even if it looks—at times—more like a sitcom than a feature film. The high definition digital video material is presented in a 1080p/AVC encode that may not be visually stunning, but certainly seems true to source. There are moments when the focusing is a little soft, but the picture as a whole has a refined sense of clarity, revealing fine details in the contours of John C. Reilly's sad-clown face and revealing the textures of clothing and furniture. Color is presented very realistically, with warm skin tones and a generally muted palette, and black levels are adequately deep without crushing shadow detail—important in a film that spends so much time in dimly lit interiors. The image is somewhat flat, lacking depth or presence, but this is a natural outcome of the way the film was shot. Noise is kept to a minimum, with brief spikes during the darkest scenes, and I didn't spot any real compression or encode issues.
Cyrus Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film comes equipped with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, but it may as well be a stereo mix, as the rear channels are rarely used even for ambience or music. Most of the activity is contained up front, and by activity, I mean dialogue and score. There's little else. This is a quiet, conversational film, and the mix puts an appropriate emphasis on clear dialogue. There are definitely a few instances when the surround speakers could've been implemented more—especially during the opening party scene—but overall, the track gives little cause for complaint.
Cyrus Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Cyrus Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Don't be fooled by the casting; Cyrus is less of an outright comedy than a quiet, idiosyncratic drama about broken characters trying to sort out their complicated lives. That said, it is funny—in a restrained, deliciously uncomfortable way. If you're into indie comedies, it's certainly worth checking out. Casually recommended.
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Cyrus Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Cyrus Blu-ray Announced - October 18, 2010
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced Cyrus for Blu-ray release on December 14. When it opened in theaters, this independent R-rated comedy, starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei, carried the provocative tagline, "Seriously, don't f*** ...
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