By Steve Neumann

What do some low to no budget films that garner critical praise get you these days? Some heavy respect in the indie circuit? Well, in the case of the Duplass brothers, much more than that. Their critical success gained them a deal with Fox Searchlight and the opportunity to have a major film budget and the ability to get some star power. What did they do with it you ask? They wrote and directed the film Cyrus.

Cyrus is about a lonely divorcee, John C. Reilly, who has been stuck in a downward slump since his divorce…seven years ago. After finding out his ex, Catherine Keener, is to be married and by her urging he goes to a party. Socially awkward and not really “feeling it” he begins to let loose with his friend, Red Bull and vodka. Drunk and relieving himself in the bushes, John is caught by Molly, Marisa Tomei. Molly is not scared off by John and his honesty. A connection is formed and John is smitten. After a few late nights, John gets curious as to why she always leaves in the middle of the night. He follows her home and then meets Cyrus.

Cyrus, Jonah Hill, is Molly’s 21-year old son. John wants to make the best out of the situation and tries to befriend Cyrus. From the first moment the two characters meet you can see the chemistry of Hill and Reilly. The comedy between them is easy and honest and engaging to watch. You just get the feeling that something isn’t quite right about Cyrus and John soon begins to feel the same when his shoes wind up missing. A full out battle for Molly begins between John and Cyrus. John is thrown by the awkwardly close relationship between mother and son. Cyrus wants nothing to do with John entering and disrupting his life. Cyrus does everything he can to make John’s life a living hell and in turn does the same to Molly.

Cyrus is an oddball comedy. It certainly has that independent film feel. The characters are very real and honest. This allows for a nice heightened reality of comedy. Hill takes a nice turn in this film as a comedic actor. He offers something different then we have seen in his previous work. The sincerity and eerily calm nature of Cyrus may have produced Hill’s best work to date. John C. Reilly is perfect for this role of John. His everyman quality is exactly what helps ground this film in a realistic comedic feel. Reilly has a great ability to play subtle comedy just as well as the over the top. The work of Tomei is what really intrigues me about this film. The quirkiness of Molly is so subtle that you continue to ask questions about her long after the film has ended. It seems that Tomei gets better with each performance these days. I know I will always have a guilty pleasure place in my heart for her performance in The Guru.

While the success of Cyrus is in the reality of its characters, it is also where this reviewer thinks it lacked. I had some unanswered questions in regards to why Cyrus and Molly were the way they were. Why was there relationship so close? What was in it for Cyrus? Why was it so hard for Molly to let go? I don’t think we needed much, but I do think the Duplass brothers left a bit too much to the imagination. Why give us the small and subtle concrete background of John, but not the other two central characters?

Audiences looking at this cast, and depending on how it’s marketed, will probably expect an Apatow feel to the film. In reality its a bit more Dan In Real Life. The expectations are high for the brothers after their Indie success, even getting the coveted Saturday night premier slot at Sundance. I enjoyed the film, but it may be tough for it to have a larger mass appeal. That will ride on its star power and people willing to take a chance at the box office. There are people who seem to be giving this kind of reality based comedy a chance and his one is definitely worth a look, especially for the scenes between Reilly and Hill.

Cyrus is set to open June 18.