Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cyrus - DVD Review


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

I suppose this is a comedy, but it doesn't contain belly laughs. There's an underlying sadness to it and definite creepiness. Change the last ten minutes to everyone getting killed and this is a horror movie. As is, that creepiness, that off-kilter realism keeps this interesting, and that is primarily due to Jonah Hill as the title character of Cyrus.

Jonah Hill's been the fat clown in a few comedies (Superbad, Funny People, Get Him to the Greek, etc.) but he's usually assertive. Here he's passive-aggressive. Cyrus loves his mother, played by Marisa Tomei, to a degree that would seem inappropriate to outsiders. One such outsider is John (John C. Reilly), a recent divorcee who takes a shine to Cyrus's mom at a party. John and Cyrus are civil, they dance around each other, but it doesn't take long for John to figure out that Cyrus has a 3-D chess game in motion to make sure John does not become a permanent fixture in their lives.

I can imagine this could have easily been made into a loud, obvious pratfall-laden comedy starring Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey. But the veteran mumblecore directors Jay & Mark Duplass keep it simple, keeping everything off-balance to where we don't know what's going to happen. It feels like the quiet, level-headed manipulative Cyrus could snap at any moment. The camera tends to zoom in or out on people's faces at odd times. Where should my focus go? Should I be on the edge of my seat?

The ending seemed a little easy, but I liked seeing this different side of Jonah Hill.

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