Directed by Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 91 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French, Portuguese
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, others
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: December 14, 2010
Review Date: December 14, 2010
There’s something of a schizophrenic air about Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass’ Cyrus. Is it a rollicking comedy pitting the generations against one another, or is it a more somber and introspective look at loneliness and the innate sadness of one’s dependence on another person for security and happiness? Truth be told, there are bits of both to be found here, but unfortunately, the writers/directors of the film haven’t chosen to explore either angle in any depth. Both motifs are touched on but not developed meaningfully resulting in a film that sends mixed messages making viewers feel ambivalence for all of its major characters instead of establishing rooting interests leading to a hopefulness that the characters involved will find ways to solve their dilemmas to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. A worthy germ of a story has fallen victim to its makers’ lack of ambition for their own tale.
After spending seven lonely years after his divorce from the now-engaged Jamie (Catherine Keener), freelance editor John (John C. Reilly) meets the vivacious Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party and is instantly drawn to her. Problems abound, however, when Molly’s 21-year old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill), still living at home and threatened that he’s losing his mom’s undivided attention to this usurper, begins pulling a series of subtle pranks and carefully masked subterfuges to undermine Molly’s interest in John and make John seem like a cold, unloving person. Once John sees what Cyrus is up to, it’s all-out war between the men for Molly’s eventual love and attention.
Since much of the film was improvised while the cameras rolled, there’s a tattiness and unfinished quality to the storytelling which, while entertaining enough in many sequences, still manages to leave a thoughtful viewer a bit unsatisfied. The brothers (who provided the skeletal plot plus directed) take a very rudimentary approach to the filmmaking keeping the camera focused on faces and not going for anything showy or substantial in terms of cinematic technique. With such an intense centering of attention on characters, certain ones emerge as more problematic than others. Molly’s blind spot toward her son’s machinations seems a bit far-fetched even though all-consuming mother love has often been a movie topic favorite. And changes of heart seem a bit sudden and out of character given what we’ve seen of certain individuals, too. More focus should also have been given to Jamie’s intended Tim (Matt Walsh) who’s doing a slow burn about his fiancé’s ex-husband’s always running to her for help and advice. That aspect of the movie gets thrown away almost entirely.
On the other hand, the actors are particularly effective given they’re making a lot of this up on the spot. John C. Reilly etches a terrific portrait of a lonely and vulnerable man trying for a second chance at happiness and fighting to keep that chance alive. Jonah Hill is equally convincing as the quasi-psychotic son desperate to keep his mother’s sole attention. Marisa Tomei is given a much more difficult character to play with her complete obliviousness to her doting son’s dependence on her and his skullduggery behind the scenes when a few simple conversations with her lover when things don’t add up would make the film’s entire premise collapse. She gives it a valiant effort, but she’s done in by an inadequate premise for her character. Catherine Keener’s pushy Jamie is a bit off-putting at first but earns sympathy later for her common sense reasoning. As mentioned earlier, Matt Walsh’s Tim could have been a fascinating character had we been given the chance to get to know him better.
The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. We’re presented with a very natural image for the most part with very good sharpness (only with occasional soft shots) and pleasing color with accurate flesh tones. Details are occasionally spotty, and black levels aren’t always the deepest, but it’s an overall very pleasing visual presentation. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix concentrates most of its attention on the dialogue which is anchored firmly in the center channel and is well recorded. Very little is done with the surround channels apart from Michael Andrews’ music score and some pop songs and instrumentals played as part of the on-screen action. Otherwise, this is a very standard issue low budget comedy soundtrack.
There are two deleted scenes for the film. They may be played with or without the 480i introductions by directors Mark and Jay Duplass (running 1 ¼ and 1 ½ minutes respectively). The clips themselves are in 1080p and run 6 ¼ and 2 minutes respectively. There is no ‘Play All’ feature.
A homemade question and answer session with directors Jay and Mark Duplass is conducted with each of their toddler daughters interrupting the proceedings continually. It runs 8 ¼ minutes in 480i.
“Music Mash Up” features Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly fiddling around with a synthesizer and talking about the movie. It runs 3 ½ minutes in 1080p.
“Behind the Scenes at SXSW” finds the directors and stars John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill attending the film’s premiere at the Austin, Texas, film festival where the movie was met with great acclaim. This runs 3 ¼ minutes in 1080i.
“Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character” features individual brief interviews with John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill discussing their characters and the movie. Reilly’s spot runs 4 ¾ minutes; Hill’s runs 3 ¼ minutes. Both are in 480i.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs 2 ¼ minutes in 1080p.
There are promo trailers for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Conviction, Knight and Day, and Never Let Me Go.
3.5/5 (not an average)
Entertaining if the least bit unsatisfying in its incompleteness, Cyrus features an excellent cast improvising their way through a slice of life dramedy of some interest. Some fluffy bonus features complete the package.