Friday, July 23, 2010
It isn't hard to believe that single mom Molly (Marisa Tomei) would join in a drunken singalong of "Don't You Want Me" to bail out John (John C. Reilly) at a party, but it's maybe a little more of a stretch to imagine Molly and John falling for each other. John, whom Riley plays with a winning befuddled quality, is a freelance editor stunned by the impending marriage of his seven years gone ex-wife (Catherine Keener). John and Molly getting together isn't as hard to believe as Cyrus being the first film in which Jonah Hill actually plays a character. Hill is Cyrus, Molly's 21-year old live-in son. Cyrus reveals his true intentions fairly quickly after a couple of benign scenes; this emotionally stunted boy-man wants to bounce John and stay the focus of his mother's attention. The bulk of Cyrus is the dance between John and Cyrus, culminating with an ill-timed brawl that threatens John's budding relationship.
Jonah Hill's comic persona has served him well in Judd Apatow comedies, but the role of Cyrus requires the use of different muscles. Cyrus, who composes blandly serious synth-pop, has been the focus of Molly's attention for over twenty years and isn't ready to give up the spotlight. The idea that Cyrus is the one blind spot for the flinty and self-aware Molly works thanks to Tomei; and I almost hate to say it but Hill's size is right for the role. Cyrus isn't fully formed yet, his immaturity is actually a little scary and Hill hits every note. I wanted to see Cyrus make his last stand against John, but everyone has to be nice to each other at the end and that's where things get fuzzy. Until then Cyrus is a tart pleasure thanks to its cast, despite the fact that it isn't interesting to look at and doesn't ask enough of its female leads (especially Keener). In a summer where big budgets equal blahs, Cyrus is a welcome bass note that uses its cast well.