Cyrus Jay and Mark Duplass

Cyrus Jay and Mark Duplass
Cyrus has all the makings of a Duplass brothers film, and by extension, a "Sundance" film. It's self-consciously quirky, overly precious, shot with herky-jerky, handheld cameras meant to imbue the film with some sense of rough-hewn realism, and mostly off-the-mark in its understanding of human relationships.

Produced by another, more famous, set of brothers (Hollywood big guns Tony and Ridley Scott), the film also presents an interesting gambit: selling this Sundance sensibility to the mainstream film going public. In this regard, it will likely succeed.

The film stars two of American comedy's broadest stars, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, with its cast padded out by actors who have crossed between indie and mainstream American filmmaking with relative ease (Marissa Tomei and Catherine Keener). But anyone expecting the more common Step Brothers-style comedy alluded to in the trailers playing up the uneasy relationship between Reily and Hill's warring man-children is bound to be let down.

Cyrus is rarely funny. And what nervous laughs it does illicit arise more from its overeager awkwardness than gut-busting silliness. Reily plays John, a 40something divorcee who meets Molly (Tomei) at a party and immediately strikes up a romance, despite her being well out of his league. Their relationship is quickly complicated by Cyrus (Hill), Molly's 21-year-old son who lives at home and spends his days basking in his mother's Oedipal coddling. As John becomes aware that Cyrus is actively trying to sabotage his happiness, the two set about skirmishing for Molly's attention. But their psychological prank war comes too late into the film and never satisfyingly culminates.

Equally unsatisfying is the film's odd normalizing of relationships, which seem immediately perverse or pathetic, particularly Cyrus and Molly's mother/son wrestling matches and John's doting on his ex-wife (Keener). Focusing too intently on its two developmentally-arrested men - Tomei has nothing to work with; it's as if she exists strictly to mediate the conflicts between Reily and Hill - Cyrus is yet another in a long line of American film comedies consumed with men who have growing up to do. This is an Apatow production dressed down in indie clothing. (Fox)