a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Cyrus" is an eerie Oscars contender

From left, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly in “Cyrus,” a weird comedy that stands out from the pack so far this year. (Chuck Zlotnick/Fox Searchlight Pictures)

By Scott Beveridge

It's been a stretch to take young actor Jonah Hill serious in his bevy of films where he typically plays a hilarious nerd or born loser.

But, the Judd Appatow-favorite has landed himself a breakout man-boy role in this summer's odd little movie, "Cyrus," co-starring the forever-hot Marisa Tomei as his "roll-your-eyes" kind of freaky mom.

Hill, 26, deserves to show up in the 2011 Oscars best-supporting actor category for this chilling performance of Cyrus, who one would expect to be a serial killer in training and take out his mom's new boyfriend at any bloody moment to break them up.

Tomei and her costar, John C. Reilly, both deliver Oscar worthy performances, too, in the strangely funny and sweet movie about two lonely, love starved people who meet, fall in love and break up only to reunite once more. That story has been told thousands of times before, but never quite like this. The two come together at a party when Tomei's character, Molly, catches Reilly portraying John and drunk and peeing in a bush. Upon startling him, she says, "Nice penis."

John eventually follows Molly home when she disappears after their second love-making scene, only to discover she has a bizarre 21-year-old son with apparently no friends beside his mom, a personality disorder and an obsession with making strange synthesizer music. It's no wonder John becomes concerned when he finds a photo on Molly's dresser of her breast feeding Cyrus well beyond the breast-feeding years.

The film directed by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass plays out like a jerky home movie with rich dialogue dubbed over many shots, including those where Cyrus comes to grips with it being high time to share his mom, grow up and find a life. Yes, letting go of Tomei, who remains a goddess at 45, would be tough for most guys - even that creep.

Whether or not he can break from her apron strings isn't revealed until just before the movie's abrupt ending, after Cyrus and John go at each other for one final battle. And, then it almost seems as if the joke is on the audience.

This movie is definitely the best contender of year as Hollywood prepares to leave the summer blockbuster season and bring out its best shots for the awards season.

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