Who could properly handle a script about a divorced man that falls for a woman who has a 21 year old son that is WAY to close to her? You know, one of those mother/son relationships where she breast fed him until he was, like, five? Weird, right? And the son doesn’t want this guy getting to his mom; he wants to drive him away.
Who could properly handle a script about a divorced man that falls for a woman who has a 21 year old son that is WAY to close to her? You know, one of those mother/son relationships where she breast fed him until he was, like, five? Weird, right? And the son doesn’t want this guy getting to his mom; he wants to drive him away. If mainstream Hollywood handled it, they’d probably go and cast Robin Williams or Steve Carrell as the divorced guy, and Jennifer Anniston or Julia Roberts as the mother, and the son would end up being Zac Efron or a Jonas brother. It would go to wacky, over-the-top shenenigans and be awful. Not to mention that the subject matter would be watered down.
Thankfully, such a thing did not happen with Cyrus. This material was handled by the Duplass brothers, who brought us Baghead and The Puffy Chair. Instead of going to Hollywood extremes and watering down decidedly creepy subject matter, Jay and Mark Duplass have written and directed a movie that is grounded more in reality, showing us how people in this situation might actually react to it, without removing any of the absurd potential.
A big part of this movie’s success comes from brilliant casting. John C. Reilly plays the divorced guy, still a little too involved in his ex-wife’s life even as she tells him she’s getting remarried. Reilly plays John with perfection. He’s a regular guy that just wants to find the right woman. And when he meets Molly, played equally wonderfully by Marisa Tomei, at a party his ex forces him to attend, it would seem he has.
Enter Cyrus, Molly’s son. It becomes clear fairly soon to John, that there is something unusual about Molly and Cyrus’s relationship. Cyrus calls his mom by her first name. And they seem just a little TOO affectionate with each other. When Cyrus goes into the bathroom while Molly is showering, that’s a red flag. I’m just sayin’.
And the casting of Jonah Hill as Cyrus is strangely perfect. You’d think he’s already too prominent an actor and would take this too far into goofy. But, he doesn’t. He plays this sensitive, dysfunctional son, but with just enough “Jonah Hill” to make him funny. Yet he is a little weird and disturbing so you don’t quite know how far he’ll take it.
Now, clearly Molly coddled Cyrus through life and still does. And to make matters worse, Cyrus is none too pleased about John’s arrival in their life. He makes it clear to John that he won’t let him stick around, and John is more than willing to take the challenge because he really cares about Molly and is happy for the first time in years.
And this is where Hollywood would create some insane, slap-stick battle of wills war to see who could make the other guy look bad. But the Duplass borthers don’t resort to all that. They keep things subtle, more in line with things people might do in this situation. They keep true to these characters and their motivations. It never goes outside possibility. And they handle the subject matter with humanity.
I’m quite sure that the Duplass brothers are going to make some really great films as long as they stay true to what they have been doing so far: writing movies about people. They write great stories, not sell-out money makers. Go see this film. Cyrus is funny, it’s interesting, it’s really good.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, counting at least one indie win for this summer’s movies.