“Cyrus” is a comedy of awkwardness. John C. Reilly plays a guy who has been down on his luck for seven years after getting a divorce from his wife. He finally meets a pretty cool woman played by Marisa Tomei only to find that she has an adult son that lives with her. That is not so unheard of but the nature of their relationship is rather disturbing.
His ex is played by Catherine Keener. They still have a close friendship and she worries that he is going to slip even further down in to depression. This seems even more evident when she tells him that she is getting remarried. His ex practically forces him to get out of the house and come to a house party. At first it does not go well as he awkwardly tries to communicate with women. Then he meets Tomei in a rather embarrassing moment as he is urinating in the bushes outside. “Nice Penis” she says, catching him off guard.
Almost immediately they start a relationship. Turns out the Tomei character has been out of the dating game for a while as well. She has spent almost all of her time raising her son, played by Jonah Hill, who is now 21. Their relationship is very awkward to be around. Hill is sort of a man child who is desperately holding on to his mothers attention. When Reilly enters the picture, he sees him as a threat and wages a mental war.
It is interesting to see these actors playing variations of roles they have played before. John C. Reilly is good at playing hapless losers with big hearts but here he seems a lot smarter as he catches on to what Hill is trying to do right away. Eventually he makes a decision to move out of the house and break up with Tomei, which is usually a move made by most female characters in films.
Jonah Hill is really coming in to his own as an actor. I can’t wait to see him in a leading role. He has played a few immature adolescents before but here he engages in a mental game in such a subtle way that it seems effortless.
Marissa Tomei usually plays strong and intelligent female characters but here she has been couped up for so long that she falls for the first loveable oaf she sees. But her world has revolved around her son for so long that she can’t see when he is fully manipulating her. Catherine Keener on the other hand plays the exact opposite as she always does. Whenever I see her I assume she is the smartest person in any given film.
Comedies like this do not come out too often. They depend on personalities and dialogue to tell their story. Romantic comedies these days seem to rely on cheap laughs and idiot plots to sell tickets and it seems to work quite well. If you want to laugh just as loud but also engage your brain then “Cyrus” might work for you.