Movie Review: Cyrus- An Uncomfortable Yet Realistic Relationship Comedy That Has a Great Amount of Heart

As the film Cyrus begins there is an uncomfortable feeling that the presentation, the characters, and perhaps the story will all be familiar to the audience by the time things get moving. There is the gritty documentary feel, the down on his luck protagonist who has a weirdly understanding ex-wife, and the humor comes off as, well, recognizable. However, Mark and Jay Duplass manage to balance the easy choices of style with the interesting and overall touching subject matter that is at the heart of their script. Nothing about the humor or the character choices ever seems strained, though that could have been a problem with the delivery. Instead the Duplass brothers contain the more awkward and unconventional moments, especially between John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, into their intended story that focuses more on character that it does on comedic moments. The style is simple but the narrative is filled with heart and observational humor that many modern comedies fail to embrace. Cyrus isn’t exceptionally new, but the filmmakers seem to grasp the fact that awkward can be funny and revealing if it’s supported by a good script and talented actors.

Cyrus really is about a down on his luck freelance editor in Los Angeles whose ex-wife is getting remarried as his own social life plummets into the depths of nothingness. However, John, played exquisitely by a controlled and talented John C. Reilly, ends up meeting a beautiful woman named Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party and life actually begins to be looking up for him. Things move quickly with Molly until he finds out that she has a 21 year old son who still lives at home who’s named Cyrus. Immediately there is that under your skin presence that Jonah Hill can provide so well with his depiction of Cyrus, and things begin to get complicated for John as it becomes obvious that Cyrus doesn’t want him around his mother. If it weren’t for the great casting for these characters the film would have fallen so flat it could never recover from whatever jokes or situations were in the film. But Jonah Hill does a much better job here than he has in previous films to play with his type rather than against it as John C. Reilly becomes a man determined to do whatever he can to hold onto the last chance of happiness he deems to be existent in his life. The script has a genuine quality within its more unnerving moments because life isn’t always naturally charming and as humans we constantly mess up what is good for us. It’s tough to watch at times, but Cyrus is an interesting character examination that utilizes humor in the most unconventional ways.

The main criticism the film will possibly receive is for its simplistic delivery style with the gritty and documentary feel imagery that seems incredibly overused in the past decade. At first, when the story is beginning, you will definitely feel a bit annoyed with the rough cutting and drastic zooming changes as the film attempts to be more indie than it should be. But luckily as we get more engrossed in the characters’ situations and lives the style tends to take a back seat to the content on the screen. Usually style should accentuate what is being presented in the film, and for the most part the grittiness of the image reflect the dysfunctional and extremely uncomfortable moments that continuously present themselves on the screen. Cyrus is funniest when it’s more painful to watch, as you cringe and chuckle at the downward spiral that is unfolding in front of you that would make Michael Scott from The Office think twice before saying something. Film as a whole is supposed to make you feel something and the way the Duplass brothers present the realistically uncomfortable situations of life makes Cyrus feel genuine and human, providing for a heart warming and understanding ending.

As it has been stated before it was really due to the talents of the cast that bring this film so delightfully and painfully to life. John C. Reilly is at the heart of this story and is really at his missed best ever since he chose to do ridiculous no nothing comedies like Step Brothers and Walk Hard. His performance of a man in his most difficult of times of desperation and loneliness can make anyone relate to the mental and emotional pain he is going through. While some might think Marisa Tomei is way out of John’s league in the looks department the film handles that well as Tomei makes it believable that honesty in a man can be more attractive than his basic looks. But really Jonah Hill makes an unexpected yet delightful performance that brings the film together as the incredibly strange and needy Cyrus. While his actions might be deemed neurotic or even obsessive when it comes to protecting and wanting his mother’s attention, it stems from an upbringing that is hinted at being too dependent so everything is uncomfortably believable. Without this great focus on character intentions that inevitably compliment their actions, Cyrus wouldn’t have worked and it shows a great amount of control from not only the actors themselves but the directors who knew how to bring their written word onto the screen.

Cyrus is far beyond any conventional comedy that is released into the theater every three months so it’s by far one of the most refreshing movies this summer in style, intention, and delivery. However, the film isn’t for the light hearted or those looking to escape reality with their comedies because the humor in Cyrus is centered on the unnerving realistic situations that find their way in our lives. As a character study Cyrus is remarkably strong and provides ample material for the talented cast to ignite the screen with realism and damaged personalities. Sometimes it’s nice to see a film that can show us that whenever we feel down and out that there is someone out there that has written a script that reflects what humans actually feel. Cyrus is relatable to those who have experienced uncomfortable human interactions or rough relationships with obstacles and perhaps as entertainment it might turn some people away. But there is no denying the Duplass brother’s ability to control themselves on such a difficult but abundant piece of subject matter.

Grade: B+

4 Responses to “Movie Review: Cyrus- An Uncomfortable Yet Realistic Relationship Comedy That Has a Great Amount of Heart”
  1. I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  2. Ariella says:

    I really enjoyed this movie and what a great review! Very honest. I am writing a Freudian psychoanalysis on this film, Cyrus being the “big kid” stuck in the pre-Oedipal stages.

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