Jonah Hill is surprisingly scary as the above-named problem son. It’s a really strong performance and good to see him branching out in terms of range. Where you might expect the film to be akin to the Judd Apatow projects for which Hill is probably mostly famously known, it’s not. Bit of a stealth attack this one - being more Cassavetes than Apatow.
John (John C Reilly) is a lovable mensch who falls for equally adorable Molly (Marisa Tomei). But he also gets her son thrown into the bargain who does all he can to drive a wedge between them. What may, in the wrong hands, have ended up as a duff high-concept comedy this is a lot more thoughtful. While the route it takes is somewhat dark and disturbing, Cyrus is not short on tenderness. Indie darlings Jay and Mark Duplass share both writing and directing duties. The jerky camera work and crash zooms are a little annoying. It seems they went a bit nuts with the Red camera it was shot on and this distracts from what is happening in the frame. It also cheapens the work, making it look like TV (although it’s a great show, style-wise think Arrested Development). Although, that’s a minor quibble. They draw excellent performances from all: Reilly puts his “well-used teddy bear” of a face to excellent use, gaining some lovely chemistry with Tomei (who’s just on a roll making a lot of good choices these days). Catherine Keener has a smaller role, further cementing the film’s indie credentials. While ultimately the story is a tad slight, it’s a very funny script.
A nice surprise in the credits was to see Ridley and Tony Scott taking Executive Producer roles. Good to see them investing in something so erm, explosionless (Is that a word? It is now.)