“Cyrus” is a movie so loveable in its honesty and performances that you can’t help but think this is going to be a real winner for director brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, indie filmmakers with a quirky sensibility. Here they have a cast of Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, and Catherine Keener, which shouldn’t hurt its marketability either. Reilly plays John, a sad sac still pining for the wife (Catherine Keener) who left him 7 years ago.
She still worries about him though and wants him to find love. At her insistence, he tags along to a party where he bumbles and stumbles as the anti-ladies man, and Reilly shows just how goofy, self-deprecating, and touching he can be at the same time. When a woman tries to pick him up, he almost blows it by making numerous funny comparisons between himself and Shrek. Luckily the woman is Molly (Marisa Tomei), who responds to John’s shlubby vulnerability and nice-guy honesty. They begin a relationship and John feels like he’s found the one, but he soon realizes she’s hiding something, a 21-year old son named Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Cyrus is a home-schooled genius who can compose whole musical albums but the only best friend he has ever known is his mother, and he doesn’t much care for John muscling in on that. And so it goes that Cyrus tries to do everything he can to break them up while John tries to beat him at his own game. A quirky adversarial relationship forms with funny results, but the movie has its heart in the way these people talk like real human beings with real concerns and feelings. The movie isn’t afraid to go to rough places, allowing these characters to see through their fears of things like change and loneliness. Reilly is pitch-perfect as this nice-guy pushed toward being a foil, while Hill does some of his best work, being calculating and a little creepy, but also allowing us to see the emotional void being left in Cyrus. And Tomei does beautiful work here as well, needing love but also finding it hard not to be the doting mother. Anybody who wants to see a touching comedy this summer should look no further than right here.