Ah, the indie movie. Once a rare triumph, but now not a month goes by without one crossing my path. Each one seems to be less interesting than the last, but the all have the same trademarks. A soundtrack consisting entirely of lilting guitar ditties, plus that one 80s song or band that the main character loves above all other music. Lenghty conversations about nothing in particular, awkward introductions that blossom into still awkward but tolerable relationships. But hey, every genre has its cliches, right?
Cyrus is no different. John C. Reilly stars as John, a seven year divorced guy who's lonely and depressed, before his ex-wife, who he appears to have some kind of awkward but tolerable relationship with, takes him to a party to meet women. After several failed attempts by this 40 something man to score with women much younger than him, he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), a quirky woman who instantly finds a connection with him that no other woman around could. And so begins another awkward relationship. Molly always rushes off after the hanky panky, leading John to follow her back to her house, where he meets Molly's 21 year old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). All secrets and stalking put aside with no trouble, they all have a nice dinner together, with some obligatory awkward banter between adults and young adults. Cyrus seems like a nice, understanding guy. But is he as he seems?
That's the main conflict of the movie. The struggle between John and Cyrus to understand how they feel about each other's presence in their lives. Doesn't seem like a big enough plot to be spread across an entire film, but it works quite well. I was instantly reminded of Greenberg, a movie that I found just plain boring, as in the end nothing much is resolved at all, and the characters don't even seem to acknowledge or change any quirks that are getting in their way, everyone just learns to tolerate each other. In Cyrus however, there is clear character progression. Cyrus has to learn how to accept his mother dating another man, Molly has to learn how to share her affection between her new boyfriend and her son. I swear she changes her clothes and hairstyle more times than Padme in Star Wars Episode 1, but a bullshitting critical mind could probably link that to her altering emotional state throughout the movie. Or maybe she's just a standard quirky indie character compensating for her lack of personality with wacky outfits. Yeah, I'm sure that's it
The real surprise with Cyrus is in the casting. John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill are predominantly comedic actors, and they have regularly made me laugh my ass off in the works of Judd Apatow. It's odd to see them cast in such dramatic roles, but they handle the task very well. It is difficult, however, not to see the similarities between the plots of Cyrus and Step Brothers, in which John C. Reilly played a guy still living with his dad having to cope with the introduction of a stepmother and stepbrother into his life. When Cyrus remarks "Seriously, don't fuck my mom" I could instantly imagine John replying "Don't touch my drum set!"
There are no real laugh out loud moments, even though Cyrus is classed as a comedy. The comedy lies more in the situations that arise, in a subtle way. Like most indie movies, I found it to be pretty uneventful in general, but the interactions between the characters, especially John and Cyrus, made it a lot more entertaining than I expected.
My rating: 3/5