Review: Cyrus DVD

Cyrus DVD boxSTUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Mark and Jay Duplass | CAST: John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener
RELEASE DATE: 12/14/10 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.98
BONUSES: two alternate scenes with optional commentary
SPECS: R | 91 min. | Comedy | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1; 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio Surround Sound | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Cyrus movie scene with Marisa TomeiCyrus is a movie that produces off-beat laughs via uncomfortable moments and irritating characters, not unlike Greenberg with Ben Stiller. And, like Noah Baumbach’s film from earlier this year, Cyrus melds the independent do-it-yourself “mumblecore” American filmmaking movement (a low-budget, amateur-embracing approach that has yielded such noted indie films as the Duplass brothers’ The Puffy Chair and Baghead) with Hollywood accoutrements.

In Cyrus, John C. Reilly (The Extra Man) plays a woebegone divorced editor in his 40s who attends a party soon after his ex-wife Catherine Keener (Please Give) tells him she is about to remarry. At the shebang, Joe encounters the lovely Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), who takes an immediate liking to him, and soon they begin dating. Reilly suspects Tomei is hiding something about her life, and he discovers she in fact has a son: a cherubic, twentysomething New Age music fanatic named Cyrus (Jonah Hill, Get Him to the Greek), who carries on an unusually open relationship with mother Tomei.

The oddball threesome plus the presence of Reilly’s ex Keener make for a series of hilarious but unsettling situations: Tomei leaves the bedroom door open when Reilly is in clear view of Hill; a romantic romp in the park with the new couple leads to a get cozy session between mother and son; and Hill looks at Reilly as his new father even though he exhibits disdain for him.

Cyrus is shot in mostly close quarters, using the improvisational style that has made a name for directors Jay and Mark Duplass and the entire mumblecore style. But what makes Cyrus so engaging is the work of the four Hollywood pros as the leads. They are obviously living out the quirks of their dysfunctional characters and making them real, and because of that, the film succeeds — and creeps us out a little at the same time. It’s weird and off-putting … but funny and very fresh.

The surprisingly slim special features offering on the DVD consists of two alternate scenes, which exemplifies the cast’s improvisational techniques.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.