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Cyrus - Blu-ray Movie Review


Cyrus

Cyrus is the atypical model of what happens when two relative no-name filmmakers, with but a couple of raw indie productions under their belt, are given a real Hollywood budget and asked to recreate their magic. Surprisingly, Mark and Jay Duplass, who found earlier critical success with The Puffy Chair and Baghead, don’t lose their devotion to improvised dialogue, hand-held camera work, natural lighting and many of the other things that brought them to the attention of Hollywood producers. As a result, their latest film is a brilliant little big studio gem that sparkles with indie sensibility. Like their previous films, Cyrus revels in drawing its humor from awkward social situations… it straddles the fine line between laughter and discomfort.

Playing the titular character - a 21-year-old man-boy who still lives with his mother - is Jonah Hill who is a bit of a revelation here. We’ve come to know the doughy actor as the lovable oaf of such profanely funny films as Superbad, and Knocked Up, where he typically uses his one-dimensional characters as a springboard for a constant onslaught of hilariously vulgar one-liners. But here he shows us a tender side by baring his acting chops in a much more difficult role. And some mighty chops he has.

Cyrus and his mother, Molly (Marisa Tomei), have a close (creepily so) relationship where the open-door bathroom policy is always at play… and cuddle sessions on the couch, feel-good hugs, and daily visits together to the local park are routine activities. So imagine Cyrus’s selfish reaction when his mother begins seeing another man.

The other man in the picture is John (John C. Reilly), a directionless freelance editor at the end of a downward emotional spiral that began when he was dumped by his wife Jamie (Catherine Keener) seven years ago.  John realizes he’s way out of his league with Molly, but in his quest for happiness, he’s determined to make this hapless romance work out. As the two grow closer together, the 500-pound gorilla - in the form of a jealous Cyrus - rears its ugly head. Initially Cyrus pretends to be OK with John sleeping over. He just wants his mom to be happy. But he’s a deceptive little devil – concocting clever bumps in the road to happiness between John and his mom. Like a two-faced Eddie Haskell, Cyrus is polite and well mannered on the surface, but beneath the façade he harbors an unhealthy personality disorder that threatens the relationship of all three.

Reilly and Hill are brilliant on the screen together. The two show a real knack for comic improvisation, which is allowed to flourish under the hands of the Duplass brothers.  In many scenes, the only direction the two actors are given is a specific objective, but how to obtain that objective is left in the open. One may be told, “you’re very angry and your objective is to leave the room.” The other actor is secretly told, “whatever you do, don’t let this person out of the room.” The result: not only comedic genius, but a stretching out for Jonah Hill who had begun to pigeon-hole himself in recent films.

Cyrus Blu-ray Review

Also deserving mention is the performance of Marisa Tomei. Though the center of the film’s dynamic is the conflict between John and Cyrus (and what each will do for the woman they love), central to that relationship is Tomei’s character. It would be easy for her to get inadvertently pushed aside as an insignificant player in this ludicrous ménage… and the film would still probably work if that were the case. But Tomei plays against the comedic duo with a strong, sensitive portrayal of both a parent and a lover, that gives us something we can recognize as genuine. We understand what she’s feeling.

Many will likely find Cyrus a bit different from what they were expecting. Seeing John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill (of recent Step Brothers and Knocked Up fame, respectively) in the trailers, it wouldn’t be out of line to expect the proceedings to come down as another vulgar comedy in the vein of a Judd Apatow production. But while the film certainly has its comedic moments, what we’re often laughing at is something that another viewer may be squirming in discomfort over. It’s this middle ground, of people experiencing conflicting emotions, where the Duplass’s flourish. Their previous films were this way, and it’s good to know a big Hollywood budget hasn’t changed this about them.


Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 21, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin (Traditional)
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live

Cyrus Blu-ray Review

Cyrus is presented in a 1080p/AVC encoded transfer that remains true to the digital video quality of its source material. This isn’t a high-dollar feature with a high-dollar budget and expect for it to show, but that doesn’t mean the film falters in its look. The colors are well-preserved and consistently warm. Black levels are deep and unfaltering throughout. Audio-wise, the film is supplied with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Unfortunately, the rear speakers are seldom used for ambiance, so this sucker might as well be presented in stereo for all the good its surround track does.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

The sleeve of the blu-ray boasts an abundance of deleted scenes, but the truth is that there are only two scenes showcased here. Both are fronted by optional introductions from the directors and one – the puppet show – has a very good reason for being left out of the feature. The second – featuring Hill having a panic attack at a party – should have been included but this would have broken the POV of the story. The Q & A is a fun feature, but not nearly as thorough as a commentary would have been. The funniest feature is the Music Mash-Up, featuring Reilly and Hill mixing lines of dialogue from the movie with some phat beats.

The breakdown of the supplemental material is as follows:

  • Deleted Scenes with Introductions from Directors/Writers Jay and Mark Duplass (8 min)
  • Q&A with Directors/Writers Jay and Mark Duplass (8 min)
  • Music Mash-Up with John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill (3 min)
  • Behind the Scenes at SXSW with Jay & Mark Duplass (3 min)
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with John C. Reilly (4 min)
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Jonah Hill (3 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
  • Sneak Peak  – ‘Never Let Me Go’ (3 min)

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