Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

John C Reilly is John, a man whose self-esteem is as crumpled as his fashion sense - "I'm like Shrek," he admits. Attending a party to celebrate the remarriage of his ex, he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei, reminding us yet again that she ought to be given a lot more good roles). After hitting it off during a spot-on sequence involving Human League and some serious dad dancing, it seems they are not such an unlikely pair after all. But when John finally gets round to Molly's pad - in a plot manoeuvre suggesting he isn't beyond a bit of manipulation himself - he discovers she comes with a 20-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill)... a dysfunctional sort who is a whole lot less welcoming than he first appears.

This is the Duplass brothers' first film within the confines of the studio system, after garnering a following on the festival circuit with The Puffy Chair and Baghead, and the transition has worked out pretty well, on the whole, although I'm not sure the film is destined to attract huge audiences to the multiplex.

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It is the high-calibre cast attracted by the bigger budget that is the real selling point, buoying the film through some plot development doldrums. The Duplass' script thrives on discomfort but there is a reluctance to go the whole hog in their exploration of Cyrus's oedipal fixation with his mother, meaning that the humour almost always ends sunny-side up, even when a darker comedic path would be more interesting. Although they set up some disconcerting ideas, there's a sense all along that a comfortable resolution to all these characters' problems is a lot closer than it probably would be in real life.

Still, if the plot development lurks on cusp of credibilty, the characters feel genuinely complex and are given a real sense of humanity by Tomei, Reilly and Hill. While some of their characterstics verge on overblown, there is always something heartwarming in their dysfunction.

The lack of bite means that much of the goings on are unlikely to linger in the memory but a steady stream of good humour and the excellent performances render it worth a look.


Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2010
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A recently divorced guy meets a new woman... and her son.
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Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Writer: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Starring: John C Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener.

Year: 2010

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: US


Sundance 2010

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If you like this, try:

The Puffy Chair