Thursday, July 08, 2010

‘Cyrus’– Tender, Sweet, Funny, Romantic and just a bit creepy…in a good way!

Just when I thought the summer movie pickings were going to be a total loss, along ambles a romantic comedy that breathes a welcome breath of fresh air into not only the romantic movie genre, but the whole summer movie season as well. ‘Cyrus’, I am very happy to say, is a new romantic comedy that is smart, funny, very tender and endearing. While at times a little creepy, by design mind you, this is a film that wins your heart from the opening scenes thanks in large part to the excellent performances by John C Reilly (Talladega Nights), Jonah Hill (Get Him to the Greek), and Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler).

Writer/Directors Jay and Mark Duplass (brothers) have worked together on two previous films, ‘The Puffy Chair’ and ‘Baghead’; both dealt with romantic, existential crises of sorts and they do not steer far from course here. Although they are clearly sharpening their skill here and proving they are destined to move beyond indie status.

Reilly is John, a divorcee who not only still works for his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) but relies on her for romantic advice. John is becoming more depressed as he learns that she is getting remarried so she convinces him to attend a party where he meets Molly (Tomei). Their initial interaction is incredibly natural and sweet. John is incredulous that the beautiful Molly would even want to speak with him: ‘I am like Shrek!’ he announces. It is both a funny and poignant moment. Molly and John hit it off instantly and they start off on a passionate relationship; there are wonderfully tender scenes of John preparing for Molly’s arrival, cleaning his apartment, cooking, the conversation while she is there is sweet and tender – natural. The Duplassess mark their films with sweetness and self-assurance and allow that to come out in the actors. But Molly’s behavior each night afterward is strange enough that John follows her home one night to learn what the situation is.

He soon discovers that she has a grown son, Cyrus (Hill) living at home with her, a sort of creepy guy who plays electronic music, never went to college (‘I earned my GED and now I write music to pictures my Mom and I take in the park every morning’) and has this unnerving connection to his mother. Cyrus views John as an intruder into his personal world and it becomes his mission to undermine him. John, however, is in love with Molly and feels that he may not have another chance at such a love so he is determined to go toe to toe with Cyrus.

This is a film that could have easily veered off course and fell into the ‘Knocked-Up’ trap of bathroom humor. But here there are more substantial characters and there is a fantastic balance between the low brow humor and the intelligent humor. The cast, as mention earlier is excellent. Reilly is impossible not to love or root against; he is just an ordinary guy trying to work against the odds for a love he know he deserves. Tomei continues to be outstanding and beautiful. Her choices and career moves have been perfect so far. Jonah Hill, while not so much an actor – he is ‘there’, a lovable, charming presence; a subtle move or look that just makes a moment or two.

Cyrus is filled with heart. It is an opportunity to highlight the fact that true love can be found at the oddest times, in the oddest places with even the oddest people. We may not be ready or available, we may not even be open, but it may happen none the less. A 4 star effort worth the trip downtown!

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