REVIEW: Cyrus

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

Cyrus (Jonah Hill), thankfully a character having nothing to do with the more famous Disney celebrity franchise, is not a typical character. His single parent mother (Marisa Tomei) loves him dearly, rocking him to sleep during his panic attacks, sharing her bathroom with him while he brushes his teeth, playing with him in the park, leaving her door open to him at night and even kissing and cuddling him to shower him with love. The only difference is Cyrus is 21 going on 12.

Naturally, should be unnaturally, Cyrus acts out when a new man (John C. Reilly) enters his mom’s life. Meeting at a party his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) forced him to go to, Molly’s eye was caught on John’s penis and of course his big, open heart.

Hitting it off rather fast, the two emotionally vulnerable and needy characters rushed into a relationship that would make any child nervous, just hopefully not enough to wet the bed.

Having no part in playing second string or giving up the position as the sole receiver of his mother’s love, Cyrus starts acting up and acting out, but never really giving away whether he is faking it or not. Sometimes the antics are shocking and confusing, but a suspicious and fed up John decides not to play along with the child games. The two enter a canine territorial pissing contest over Molly, who because of careful characterization, skips becoming the fire hydrant to be the dog house and it’s an asinine fight to who is sleeping in it. Okay, it really doesn’t get that incestual, but it’s pretty territorial.

It sounds like it should be an engaging plot or character exploration, but it is not. Instead most of the audience is left wondering whether the film will pan out as a hilarious extension of an already done Friends story arc, or whether it will turn into a jaw dropping drama. The problem isn’t that film has to pick, because plenty of other films like Little Miss Sunshine, Away We Go or The Kids Are All Right manage to flourish off the inability to distinguish a genre. Cyrus’ problem is just like Cyrus’ problem, it is underdeveloped in either category.

Slugging through two hours of screen time is yet another yawn character by John C. Reilly, who tries his best to play a mix of Seth Rogen or Will Ferrell characters and ends up looking like John C. Reilly trying to play his own image of who he thinks John C. Reilly should be, which is terribly disastrous and boring.  Four Shrek movies and an endless list of films that have used the motif later and it still is cheap and unfunny. The, “Haha, it’s funny because he’s fat,” line from The Hangover is proving to be ever-great satire.

As Molly, Tomei never really gets enough screen time or lines to prove her acting muscle as an interesting mother who can’t handle the balance or the two men in her life fighting. Hill and Keener do excellent jobs with their characters, making then completely realistic, interesting and a pleasure to watch. It was a shame Keener didn’t have more screen time. You couldn’t have asked for anything more out of Hill though, who gave the character enough mystery, insecurity and humor to drive the film, even if he was a few years off from getting his permit.

In Cyrus not a whole lot is demanded. However, not a whole lot is delivered either. Making it feel like an empty shell of a movie with the potential to be something very serious or very funny but instead just very average. A movie that felt like it should have been 21 but was only say… 12.

Grade: C

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