February 6, 2011

#118: Cyrus (6/10)

I'm finally able to get things back on track with posting to this blog. I've been watching a lot of really good movies lately, and I am way behind on writing about any of them. That is what happens when you have a baby I guess. We've been snowed in around here all week, so I will try to take advantage of that by catching up on a few posts.

When I initially heard about Cyrus it immediately went on my list of "most anticipated". I really enjoyed the other films by the Duplass brothers (Humpday & The Puffy Chair). Cyrus would be the first one with a more well-known cast. I really didn't care that the cast was more well-known, but I did care that it was Jonah Hill and John C. Riley. I really enjoy both of them as comedic actors. I thought they would be great together.  With the solid story from the Duplasses I really had high expectations for this movie.

If I judge my reaction to Cyrus compared to my expectation I would have to say it was a disappointment.  I thought (and it was advertised) as more of a comedy than a drama. It turned out not to be all that funny, which is okay. I felt like both Hill and JCR gave great performances even though they weren't called on to be extremely funny. I don't know, maybe they were called on to be funny and it just didn't work out. JCR's character (named John) was easy to empathize with. You could understand totally why his marriage failed, yet he still remained great friends with his ex. That was one aspect of the film that was set up well, however there were others that were not.

I thought I would like this movie because of the way the Duplasses are able to develop characters and relationships. This turned out to be something that didn't work nearly as well as I had assumed.  I never felt like we got the whole story behind John. We never really figured out what was going on with Cyrus and Mollie. I didn't want everything explained, but I did want to be more drawn in by those relationships that made up the core of the movie. It almost felt like some scenes had been taken out, and the movie didn't flow nearly as well without them.

Still, I really enjoyed watching Cyrus.  The Duplass brothers have a way of making it feel "real", and I like that a lot.  I've heard that a lot of the dialog was improvised by the actors.  I like that because they aren't just waiting to deliver their next line; they are forced to listen and react.  There is a fine line though, and there were several times when Cyrus might have ventured over to the bad side of that line.

Cyrus is one of those small indie movies that you may not have heard about. I think it is worth watching for sure, but then again I tend to like those type of films. It isn't an all out comedic romp, so don't go in expecting that.  The humor is derived more from awkwardness than anything else. I will give a reserved recommendation for Cyrus. It won't connect with everybody, but there is something worthwhile there.

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