Remove the first 20 or so minutes and Jay and Mark Duplass‘s Cyrus could be called a mature, somewhat comedic and satisfying handling of an unusual romantic triangle situation — 40ish love-starved guy (John C. Reilly), 40ish mom (Marisa Tomei) and quietly psychotic fat-ass son ( Jonah Hill). It’s “funny” here and there but mostly it’s just believable, buyable and emotionally even-steven. A truly welcome surprise.
In the hands of Adam McKay or Shawn Levy or any of the other big-studio whores who are always directing expensive Eloi comedies,Cyrus would have been a Joe Popcorn animal-bullshit torture chamber movie like Stepbrothers, in which Reilly costarred with Will Ferrell. But it’s something else with the Duplass brothers running the show. It’s quietly absorbing and occasionally hilarious, and made all the better by superb acting.
But those first 20 or so minutes are very weird. For during this period Cyrus plays like it was directed by McKay or Levy. Reilly behaves so over-the-top needy and neurotic and boorish and lacking in social skills that I was ready to leave. “I really don’t want to hang with this asshole,” I was saying to myself. I was just about to bolt when all of a sudden Reilly hooked up with Tomei, went home with her, fell in love and turned into a different person.
It plays as if the Duplass brothers suddenly changed their minds about Reilly’s character and decided to go with a much calmer and more emotionally secure vibe. It’s almost as if they sat down and said “we need to get the animals to see this so let’s make an animal comedy straight out of the Will Ferrell loser file so the Fox Searchlight trailer guys can sell this portion, and then turn around and make Cyrus into a whole ‘nother bird — a movie aimed at a smarter crowd — about 20 or so minutes into the running time.”