Social Ineptness Reaches New Highs In “Cyrus”…And It’s Completely Hilarious For It
John C. Reilly’s career has been a bit of strange ride. He’s been an indie movie favorite for quite some time, but he didn’t hit the mainstream until the silliness of “Talledega Nights” and then even more so in the wretched “Step Brothers”. Well, it’s wretched other than “Boats & Hoes” and that whole “pow” scene. Reilly gets back to what he’s best at in “Cyrus”, but really gets blown out of the water by the twisted, subtle, brilliant performance by Jonah Hill.
That’s right. John C. Reilly gets crushed by Jonah Hill. Don’t get me wrong, Reilly’s great as the depressing divorced loser John. You know you are in for an awkward ride as we are introduced to John while being interrupted by his ex-wife Jamie (the always underutilized Catherine Keener) during an extremely personal moment involving a laptop, headphones, and the Internet.
Jamie invites John to a party, which treats us to more socially inept behavior from John. That is, until he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) who, for reasons that I still don’t know, finds John to be interesting. Thankfully, Reilly and Tomei are so likable, you quickly forgive the fact that she is completely out of his league.
Or is she? It turns out, Molly has a 21-year old son living with her. That would be Jonah Hill’s Cyrus, a prog rock loving man-child of epic proportions. Poor naive John falls for the sweet, smiling Cyrus immediately, even though everyone in the audience knows this entire situation is going to fall apart around us. Sure, John finds it very odd that Cyrus calls his mom Molly and they are fine with sharing a bathroom while Molly showers, but he is willing to overlook it due to loneliness and the fact that Molly is perfect for him.
Of course, the truth is eventually revealed to John as he and Cyrus embark on a few cringe-inducing conversations and mind games. In a typical Hollywood movie, it would get way over the top and ridiculous. They would have some insulting car chase a la “Meet The Parents”. However, “Cyrus” never reaches any of those moments. It’s firmly grounded in reality, so much so that Cyrus has moments of clarity as he realizes how bats*** crazy he may be.
Again, while Reilly and Tomei are great here, it’s really Jonah Hill who shines. He quietly crazies John to death, with strange stares and an endearing, childlike smile. He never seems to even blink. Cyrus is just a bump from reaching Hannibal Lecter-ish levels of crazy and Hill does it without once going overboard. It’s a completely restrained insane performance from an actor that completely understood the material he had and smokes it out of the park.
As a connoisseur of the dark comedy, “Cyrus” is a hit. If you are interested in PG-13 comedic relationship folly, this one isn’t for you. It doesn’t hit you over the head, nothing catches on fire, and nobody is quirky for quirky’s sake. “Cyrus” is simply 90 minutes of what seems like an actual relationship between a man, a woman, and her dependent 21-year old son…that happens to own seven synthesizers.
On a side note, here’s hoping that John C. Reilly gets back into these kind of roles. The sooner he gets away from the declining Will Ferrell-movie series, the better.