What I’ve Been Watching: Cyrus

Cyrus-Movie-Poster.jpgGiven the talent involved, namely Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly, as well as the fast-paced, joke heavy trailer, one might expect this is to another Apatow movie.

The ‘Apatow’ genre is fairly simple: take a group of guys living as adolescents, who talk about sex and take drugs, and put them into situations where they’re forced to grow up in some way (cf. Knocked Up, Forty Year Old Virgin, Superbad))

Thankfully, this is not an Apatow movie, since while the format seemed original and fresh five years ago, now it seems Apatow himself is even bored of it. (cf. Funny People).

Instead Cyrus is much better described as an indy comedy, and as such has much more in common with Up in the Air or Sideways than Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

The premise is that John (John C. Reilly) is a recently divorced guy looking for love. He meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), and the two hit it off. That is until he meets her 21 year-old son, Cyrus, who is jealous that someone might take away not only his mother, but his best friend.

When writing my article on why I don’t like the comedy genre, and in discussing it on the podcast, I mentioned that the type of comedies I don’t like are those that sacrifice story and character in favour of looking for the next laugh.

It’s a pity I hadn’t seen Cyrus, since this is a perfect example of the type of ‘comedy’ I do like. In that, while it does have a few laughs, its primary concern is with the three main characters at its core.

As such, the story that develops is entirely believable and engaging. It asks us to reflect on what it is we need from our romantic relationships. Since, in each other, Cyrus and his mother have almost everything they need emotionally.

They can talk about anything to one another, and have open, frank exchanges about how they’re feeling and what they need from one another. Such a relationship has the kind of sweet, sickly feeling one might associate with eating an entire bag of Haribo, and is perfectly realised by both Tomei and Hill.

The latter should be given a lot of credit for making a character which starts out as a caricature into something more real and three-dimensional. In this role, he shows he can do a lot more than the slobby, jokey best friend we’ve seen him play time and again, mainly in Apatow movies. Michael Cera take note, this is the type of role that proves Hill has more than one string to his bow.

As the film reaches its conclusion, we see this is a movie about people taking risks with one another, moving outside that which has been comfortable for so long. It’s a film that allows us to laugh at the characters at first, but then forces us to look deeper into who they are, until we are really able to sympathise and empathise with what they’re going through.

Overall, Cyrus feels like quite a unique, original movie which treats its characters with a lot more respect than one might expect from the trailer. If you’re looking for a laugh-a-minute comedy, you’ll leave sorely disappointed. If you’re looking for a well written, engaging story about three strange and flawed characters I’d recommend you go see it.

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