Monday, July 12, 2010


The problem with black comedies is that filmmakers opt to make them too black, utilizing unsavory material that could never be resolved. Cyrus acts like its heading down this path but winds up taking a side route and comes up with a resolution that is reasonable and entertaining. It tells the story of John (John C. Reilly), a depressed publisher who finds new life at a party with Molly (Marissa Tomei) and takes up with her. All is swell until he meets her possessive son Cyrus (Jonah Hill) who has a beyond strange strange relationship with his mother, and the young lad decides to get John out of the picture by any means necessary. The setup has Apatow/dick/fart jokes written all over it, but as we watch it, it becomes clear that it is more sincere than any of those films pretend to be. Take John C. Reilly. Due to recent roles, we forget that he is a stage trained actor and as the film opens and his ex-wife (the lovely Catherine Keener) walks in on him in an uncompromising position, we think this is going to be another Step Brothers, manboy retread. Instead, Reilly shows his depth and nuance, and his character proves to be an intelligent adult who is able to handle situations instead of falling victims to their pratfalls (what's he doing using the word overtures anyhow). Jonah Hill brings his usual and amusing comic sensibilities to the part, and the film seems partly like a dissection of his behaviors. The other characters even comment on whether or not he is "genuine" when he gives his glib replies and hides behind his goofy facades. Even Hill reveals a layer that wasn't there before and with the always superb acting from Keener and Tomei, they join Reilly and bring this to a form of comic excellence. I came across the word "mumblecore" when reading reviews for this film and it is a recently coined term referring to low budget films mostly filmed with a digital shaky-cam dealing with relationships. The Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, who directed are considered to be the forerunners of the movement and they may be on to something when it comes to human comedy and behavior.