Movie review: ‘Cyrus’ walks a fine line between endearing and icky
As Oedipal romantic comedies go, “Cyrus” is probably as close as you can come to generating charm and laughs without spilling over completely into off-putting creepiness.
Thanks to a dead-on underground sensibility and a sure hand with off-track characters by writing-directing brothers Jay and Mark Duplass – plus genuinely felt performances from a first-rank ensemble cast – “Cyrus” just manages to walk a fine line between oddly endearing and outright icky.
The Duplass boys, busy mainstays in the hip, micro-budget world of indie “mumblecore” films, are stepping up in class here after a couple of notable successes in 2005’s “The Puffy Chair” (about a cross-country trek to deliver a giant La-Z-Boy) and 2008’s “Baghead” (screenwriting buddies penning a mock horror script about being terrorized by a guy with a bag on his head and then, indeed, being terrorized by a guy with a bag on his head).
With producing juice and support from big-time bothers Ridley and Tony Scott, the Duplasses have attracted an ensemble cast that includes John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill and Catherine Keener to play out a quirky love story spiked with bile.
Reilly starts it off as 40-something schlub John, a lonely guy who clings to a friendship with his ex-wife Jamie (Keener) even as she’s preparing to wed her fiancé (Matt Walsh). Fed up with his neediness, Jamie drags the slovenly, socially awkward John to a party where he takes a shine to the very appealing Molly (Tomei).
But as John and Molly begin dating and seem to be hitting it off, a troublesome interloper threatens to come between them in the form of Molly’s snarky, clinging, live-at-home 21-year-old son Cyrus (Hill). Clearly, Momma’s boy Cyrus sees John as a threat. And soon the two men in Molly’s life are engaged in full-out psychological warfare for her affections.
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