Movie Review: The Duplass Bros.' Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener (with trailer video)


John still seems to be best friends (possibly only friends) with his ex-wife of seven years (Catherine Keener), who still has a key to his house and a vested interest in his well-being. So, we're as surprised as John is when Molly approaches him at a house party (while he's taking a leak in the bushes, no less). "You're a really hot girl and I'm like Shrek," John manages to blurt. "What are you doing here in the forest with Shrek?"

Molly seems to enjoy John's honesty about his life being in a tail-spin, perhaps finding a kindred kind of comfort in his hopelessness. So, she sleeps with him ... as one does, I guess. This prompts John to clean up years worth of pizza boxes in his bachelor pad and do some sit-ups. John is not savvy to the rules of dating and he doesn't wait three days to call. He tells Molly immediately that he really likes her and hopes it works out. Oh, and he turns off his headlights and follows her home after their second date to find out why she keeps leaving instead of staying over. Oddly, this is the move that gets him over the casual-dating hurdle.

After falling asleep in his car outside of Molly's place, John wakes up and feels like it'd be a good idea to walk into her backyard and snoop around. What he doesn't expect to find is a much-fatter-than-usual Jonah Hill patrolling the deck. As we've guessed by this point, the (very) big secret is Molly's son, Cyrus. What we don't expect is for Cyrus to invite the snooping guy inside to play some original synthesized tunes for him on his sweet, sweet set-up. It's the way he stares intently into John's face while playing that will make this scene the most famous in the movie. (see shortened version below …)

Molly re-appears at this point, implying that John and Cyrus have been having awkward time on the couch all day. After initially freaking out at John's presence (an explanation is never asked for), he scores a dinner invite and a sleep-over pass. He's the first guy Molly has had over since Cyrus was born. How do we think Cyrus is going to take to that? I mentioned Oedipus, right? Cue the night terrors.

John manages to swallow the weird, not commenting when Cyrus walks into the bathroom while mom is in the shower or about the fact that Molly has to sleep with the door open. But when he suspects that his sneakers were stolen in the night, suddenly it's war. What ultimately makes Cyrus something one can sit through despite the discomfort is how human all three of the main characters are. The film becomes the most charming brand of dysfunction, even as we watch Cyrus manipulate and sabotage a relationship we are desperately hoping works out for our odd-ball heroes.

Definitely a departure from Hill's usually likable-loser casting choices, he steps up his game in a big way (no pun intended) by taking on a character who describes himself as maybe having, "a lot of psychological problems." It's gratifying to watch a film where all three main characters go through obvious personal growth in a relatable way. Unfortunately, I imagine that this film is the type of good that won't do well at the box office due to the tone and subject matter. I won't tell you whether or not Molly is still picking peppers out of Cyrus' food at the end, or if Shrek and Molly live happily ever after, but I will say this: There is a fist fight in a bathroom stall, and it is awesome.

[Editor's Note: Cyrus opens Fri., July 16 at Regency Square Brandon, AMC Woodland Square, Regal Hollywood and Regal citrus Park. Check it out! And for more reviews of the biggest movies of the summer, check out the Daily Loaf Movie Review Index.]

Summer 2010 is fast becoming the Summer of Duds, with a worrying majority of the anticipated blockbuster fare bombing hard. So, what better to ease our disappointment than some Sundance-vetted, Oedipal goodness? Sure, Cyrus — the latest from Mumblecore leading lights Mark and Jay Duplass — is uncomfortable. If you haven't caught onto a hint of weird by the time sweet-faced single mom Molly (Marisa Tomei) is apologetically plucking jalapeno peppers out of her 21-year-old son's take-out, just hang in there; a breast-feeding photo with a kid decidedly past suckling age is coming soon. Despite the squirm-worthy situation, you won't find yourself mentally shouting at our hero, John (John C. Reilly), to get the hell out of there, stat. John, after all, is his own brand of weird and uncomfortable

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