In addition to being the funniest film of the year, “Cyrus” is the first big film to have emerged from the ultra-indie “mumblecore” movement. Like the twisted stepchild of an Apatow film, the humor here is much less obvious and a lot more uncomfortable, but much more authentic. I have become a fanboy of the sibling directors, having loved each of their previous films with increasing respect starting with “The Puffy Chair” and “Baghead” and most recently the perversely hysterical “Humpday.” In some ways it helps to have this insight going into “Cyrus” whose humor might otherwise seem slightly cloying. That said, both John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill have never been better, and taking them one standard deviation away from Apatow and Ferrell gives them a chance to explore something weirder and in some ways more honest than what we have come to expect from them.
The film largely gravitates around the increasingly awkward relationship between Reilly, a lonely heart who has recently been reawakened by Marissa Tomei, and her grown son played by Hill whose odd relationship with his mother spins the threesome into chaos. Unlike most modern comedies, this one is bold enough to explore dark emotional areas generally uncommon in the genre. But herein lies the secret sauce. “Cyrus” is so well written and strangely compelling, it is hard not find yourself sucked into this wacky vortex, laughing unexpectedly and consistently throughout. I will be hard pressed to see anything quite as clever this year.