June 26, 2010

Cyrus (06/26/10)

Lettergrade : Incomplete

I hesitate to even write about Cyrus at all, to be honest with you. In spite of my extreme hatred of Jonah Hill, I did like what I saw, but the problem is that I only saw about half of it. We were sitting pretty close to the screen, you see, and this is a movie that was shot using handheld video, even though the cast includes big stars like John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei and directors Mark and Jay Duplass had a sizable budget to work with. Those who ride in cars with me regularly know that I'm fairly prone to motion-sickness, and I eventually reached the point where I just had to bolt and hang out in a nearby bookstore while my wife finished the movie, lest I ralph all over the seat in front of me, and probably wind up missing the second half of the film anyway. In any case, I thought the first part was entertaining, and my wife tells me that the second half was good too. So there we are.

Reilly plays a film editor (!), who has been in a tailspin since ex-wife Catherine Keener has announced that she's going to be remarrying. He meets Tomei and forms an instant connection, which is complicated by her live-in adult son, Hill, with whom she shares an unusual closeness and who has a resistance to his mom dating. The part of the movie I saw contained the usual back and forth headgames that you might expect from such a story, but it did it with an atypical amount of heart that seemed to make the proceedings a little more interesting.

I will say, however, that the section of the film that I made it through also made me wonder what the handheld video style really added, if anything. I'm not just saying that because of the nausea: the Duplass bros seem to be telling a pretty standard comedy story here that doesn't necessarily call for such a technique. I would think that a movie would have to be made like this because the content isn't mainstream enough for any studio to fund and/or it stars actors that are not marquee names or of whom no one has ever heard. But this is a movie produced by Fox Searchlight and mega moviemakers Ridley and Tony Scott via their own Scott Free productions. They had to make their earlier films such as The Puffy Chair using handheld video because those were their financial limitations and the only way to get them done. Cyrus was made this way, I would guess, because they wanted it to seem edgy and independent, which frankly strikes me as a bit disingenuous. I understand the impulse to not make another cookie cutter studio comedy, but why not do that when you're writing it instead of when you're shooting it?

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