December 6, 2010 -- This is one of those little films that didn't go mainstream this year because of its offbeat content and lack of major movie stars, but it would actually appeal to mainstream audiences if it got adequate promotion and national distribution because of two things: A funny, touching screenplay and three great acting performances.
John C. Reilly of “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” stars as mopey John, whose wife left him for another man seven years ago and he's never pulled his life back together. He gets depressed all over again when his ex-wife, Jamie (played by Catherine Keener of “Where the Wild Things Are”) announces that she is getting married to her boyfriend. She insists that he go to a party. She tries to get out of his funk. John is awkward in his attempts to strike up a conversation with women at the party, but amazingly, he finds a pretty, charming woman, Molly (Marissa Tomei of “Before the Devil Knows You're Dead”) and hits it off with her. Molly is secretive about her home life, so John follows her home one night and discovers her secret. She lives with her clingy, manipulative, 21-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill of “Get Him to the Greek”).
John, who has fallen in love with Molly engages in a secret war with Cyrus. Cyrus warns John he will “do anything” to keep John from marrying his mother, and he means it. Cyrus is smart, and he knows what buttons to push to manipulate both John and Molly, but he isn't cold-hearted. When he sees that his mother won't be happy without John, he has to make a choice.
The acting is superb by all three main characters, especially Jonah Hill, who is really the key character in this film. Reilly and Tomei are both award-winning actors long recognized for their talents and they are both in top form in this bittersweet romantic comedy. Writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass have constructed a film that is a nicely balanced drama, romance and comedy. It also has fully realized characters. Although it has definite elements of darkness and the characters are all flawed, none of them is truly evil, even Cyrus. In one key piece of dialogue, John tells Molly that he realizes that what they have between them is very rare. In too many romantic comedies romance is treated as something common. It is not that easy to come by for many people. This film acknowledges that. It rates an A.
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