This quietly surreal comedy provides a refreshing alternative to scatological grossfests.
The film’s story is contained to the disruption of an insular relationship between a single mom (Marisa Tomei) and her son (Jonah Hill) by Tomei’s new lover (John C. Reilly.) Social misfit Hill, unaccustomed to sharing his mother’s time with an outsider, attempts a variety of covert strategies to oust the clueless Reilly from their lives.
The movie’s tension and comedy derive from the disconcertingly awkward situations that its cast manages to foment. The story motors along well with its weird, elusive sort of discomfort—far more vague than The Office’s routine of bumbling social mix-ups, but still somehow familiar. It’s a spare enough premise that its success follows entirely from the talents of the cast. Reilly and Hill are veteran outcast character actors and their interplay is unsurprisingly very convincing. And Tomei, cast once again as the ageless beauty paired with a creep, somehow manages to effectively enter their bizarre little world.
Cyrus is a rare film that manages to be genuinely quirky without being cutesy. Recommended.