C. Reilly has a certain hang-dog look of desperation that makes him very
believable in this comic love story of dysfunctional families.
With his tall, gawky body, his lank curly hair and boxer's face, it's not
exactly impossible to see him as John - a man so completely lacking in game
that he gets into a romantic triangle with his potential lover's son.
meet the guy at his lowest ebb. John is unhappily divorced and still
clinging to friendship with his remarrying ex (Catherine Keener - who always
gives a movie indie cred). He goes to a party and does spectacularly
badly at chatting up women. He finally crashes and burns when he does
his hail Mary pass - trying to actually be honest with a woman - and comes
off as pathetic and just vaguely psycho.
woman quickly bolts (run! don't walk!) but the come-on is overheard by a
cute and sweet divorcee named Molly (Marisa Tomei), who takes pity on this
loser guy and sort of appreciates his honesty. Flirtation turns into a
drunken one night stand. Or is there more there? John can't pick
up on her signals.
can't figure out how a catch like her could be unattached
- or at least he is so
insecure that he can't believe she would like a guy like him.
However, Tomei has a secret, too. She only wants to
come to John's house, and then disappears in the middle of the night.
Now sure she must be married after all, he is determined to find out what
Molly is keeping from him.
answer is the title character - her spoiled and passive-aggressively
over-protective twenty-one year old son (Jonah Hill). The mother and
son seem to have an oddly close relationship, in fact a tiny bit
disturbingly co-dependant. As John works his way into their world,
Cyrus starts a mental and physical war of words and deeds for his mother's
Wow, Reilly must be a loser in love if he
is getting into a romantic tussle with his girlfriend's son.
said, Reilly's character is not exactly the abused party. Several things that he
does here veer on the slippery slope from kinda creepy to borderline
stalkerish. Just because he is our hero and we want to like him doesn’t
make them any less uncomfortable for the audience.
Hell, if I were Marisa Tomei, I would
have dumped him for the unwanted drunken karaoke performance of "Don't You
Want Me" that he does within moments of meeting her. But that's me.
Cyrus is trying to straddle the line between Judd Apatow man-boy comedy
and quirky indie fare, and it succeeds a lot more than you'd expect.
After all, this plot is sort of like an inversion of the beyond awful plot
for Monster-In-Law. Cyrus, on the other hand, does some very
clever things with kind of clichéd story elements. Still, just making
smart decisions about a cliché does not make it any less of a cliché.
However, what Cyrus' writing directing team do with the cliché make
the film worth seeing.
doesn't get many shots at a leading role and he is definitely up to it,
making John both pathetic and oddly charming at the same time.
follows up Get Him To the Greek with his second straight shockingly
smart and subtly played character study. Earlier in his career he had
a tendency to overplay things, but he is quickly becoming a very nuanced
Strangely, Tomei's character of Molly is the one character here that seems
the least well thought out and the most inscrutable, which is kind of odd
since in a very strange way she is the object of affection for both men.
a bit of a balancing act sometimes, and occasionally Cyrus becomes
more awkward than comic, but all in all the film works well. So if you
like your dumb romantic comedies with a bit of smarts to them, Cyrus
might be just for you.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 3, 2010.