The Duplass brothers, Jay and Mark, helped establish the mumblecore sub-genre of independent film with The Puffy Chair, a low-key comedy that amused Sundance audiences in 2005. Their next joint effort, Baghead, cleverly satirized the very genre it was part of, demonstrating great self-awareness on the Duplasses' part. Their third feature, Cyrus, shows even more growth, a warm, hilarious story that's as smartly executed as anything I've seen in a while.
At first glance, you might think the Duplass boys had gone Hollywood. Instead of casting themselves or their indie friends as actors, they got bona fide celebrities: John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener. Another pair of director brothers, Ridley and Tony Scott, served as producers. Gone are the charmingly low-budget production values and the hand-held cameras.
But do not fear! The Duplasses have adapted extremely well, their sensibilities intact despite the Hollywood influences. Cyrus takes a broad comedic premise, gets laughs out of it, then somehow manages to treat it realistically, too. What could have been a silly farce is instead a down-to-earth, highly enjoyable film.