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This week:

Filthy says:
"I want my mommy."

The premise of Cyrus could be one of those awful Will Ferrell comedies which tend to be about a man-child acting cluelessly and inappropriately. For that matter, I guess most of my life could be a terrible Will Ferrell comedy. Cyrus is about a young man (Jonah Hill) who still lives with his mother (Marisa Tomei) and tries to destroy her love life so he can keep her to himself. It's Oedipal shit. John C. Reilly is the interloper, a doughy film editor with about as much confidence as a brace-faced puberty-stricken teenager.

Tomei has her own problems. The primary one is the closeness between her and her son. It's a smothering, creepy deal. He'll go in and use the toilet while she's showering; they wrestle; and they talk about her sex life. That last is the weirdest for me. I never ever talk about sex so long as I think my parents are within three miles. As far as they know, I have never had it, and that bottle of Wesson under my bed during my teen years was for emergency, late-night cooking. Similarly, I will continue to blindly assume that I was immaculately conceived and birthed from my mother's purse. It's easier for everyone that way.

As the son, Hill is the sensitive kind. The fat kind, too. Mainly, though, he's quiet and unsure. He loves to take pictures of nature and view them while composing electronica. He has no friends and no life beyond his small house and his mom. The only time he's fierce is when battling Reilly for Tomei's attention.

Reilly describes his physical appearance pretty well: "Shrek in the forest." He is troll-like, except that his face also looks like it's about to collapse in on itself in a wave of furrows and creases. He's also a damn good actor. In Cyrus, he's a wounded man, divorced for seven years--not by choice--who still relies heavily on his ex (Catherine Keener). It's sort of the way I see myself without Mrs. Filthy: a pathetic, lonely, masturbating man who cannot even fathom that a girl would like him unless one or both of us has drank enough high-proof liquor to vomit up stomach lining.

Once Tomei and Reilly hook up and form an uncertain-but-hopeful romance between their fucked-up lives, Hill methodically and sneakily tries to destroy it. He steals Reilly's shoes one night. He threatens to move out to make his mother choose him or Reilly. He gets drunk on gin and tonics and attacks Reilly. That is what Cyrus is about. Tomei can't imagine her twenty-one-year-old son would do evil things, meanwhile while Reilly and Hill duke it out just out of earshot.

That's a premise for some hijinks and wacky comedy, just like Reilly and Ferrell's mediocre Stepbrothers. Two grown men rolling around in the grass, threatening to kill each other and sabotaging each other while a hot chick looks the other way. It's also a lot like Bluto and Popeye. Why Olive Oyl never said, "For Christ's sake, both of these guys are violent motherfuckers," is a mystery I think about every day.

What works very well in Cyrus are Reilly and Tomei as people battered by shitty lives and rejection. Reilly is almost always good, and he's great here as a guy who can easily expect the worst. Tomei plays a hot, aging chick who doesn't even know she's hot. That's the best kind. She aims low in flirting with Reilly in the first place and then worries that a schlub like him would lose interest. Hill, too, is very good, but his role is also the movie's most simplistic. He's the most one-dimensional, and also the one given an easy redemption at its end.

The moviemakers are the Duplass Brothers, Mark and Jay. Cyrus is their way of moving up from independent mumblecore movies to one with actual stars and a plots. They bring their natural style with them, which means people don't say shit real people never say, and everyone doesn't drive supernice cars or live in a designer's wet dream home like in the hyper-artificial fantasy world usually created by Hollywood. Instead, people drive Chevy Malibus and old Subarus, live in crappy houses with ugly wallpaper and pause a lot when they talk. It's supposed to feel real.

Mumblecore is navel-gazing. The movies are deliberately made very small, almost like "found" art in its vibe. The mumblecore shit doesn't force fake moments. The result is there are often no moments at all. No revelations. Just draggy scene after draggy scene leading nowhere because to actually reveal something big feels too fake to the moviemakers.

The trick to making a movie like this great is not to make it really real, but instead to trick the audience into thinking it is while every moment and every seemingly natural thing said is as loaded with profundity as Chinese toothpaste is with poisons. That's where Cyrus fails. Bad movies are too obvious in their fakeness. When done right, a shitload happens and the audience believes it. Moviemakers must have the courage to drag the audience with them. The Duplasses, though, would rather go nowhere than risk being fake.

Where Cyrus goes is somewhere between slapstick and serious. At moments, it seems like it could lift off into some really funny shit. That's especially true when Reilly and Hill are trying to take the other down. But the Duplasses fall short of what could be very funny. Similarly, there isn't nearly as much drama or intrigue to the Oedipal stuff going on. It is brought up, it is exposed and we are allowed to feel creepy. Rather than really take it in a dark direction, though, the Duplasses just leave it hanging.

The result is that Cyrus that isn't particularly funny, particularly creepy, or particularly interesting. Which is a fucking shame considering the great performances and the opportunities available. Three Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Doofus Peter TRavers of Rolling Stone

Cyrus is "The summer's best, most original and crazily inventive comedy! You'll laugh 'til it hurts!"

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is "relentless suspense holds you in a vicelike grip... Noomi Rapace is back in action and she's spectacular!"

The Kids are All Right is "hilarious and heartfelt. Irresisitble.. makes its own special magic and the actors are to die for. Mark Ruffalo is dynamite."

Inception is"James Bond meets The Matrix!" and "Just in time! The mind-blowing movie event of the summer arrives!" and "dreams big, how cool is that?"

Hey, if anyone saw something in there that wasn't a tired cliché, can you let me know?

Filthy's Reading
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Black Arrow

Listening to
The Jack Benny Program


The Office, Season 2