“I’m like Shrek! What are you doing here in the forest with Shrek?” John C. Reilly jokingly asks Marisa Tomei after successfully determining that she’s flirting with him at a party. Although, or maybe because, she walked up on him taking a leak in the bushes it’s definitely a “meet cute.” *
Reilly almost jeopardizes the moment by running back in the house when he hears Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” come on the stereo, drunkenly yelling “dance party!” Using his beer bottle as a microphone he sings along and tries to get others to join him. When nobody does, Tomei saves the scene by entering the room singing and dancing along. Before you know it their previously embarrassed and snickering fellow party goers are right there with the couple singing and dancing along with them to the classic ‘80s synth pop song.
See? A meet cute. Reilly is a divorced lovable lug of a guy who is still close to his ex wife (Catherine Keener) although she is about to get re-married. Reilly hasn’t dated in ages and it’s easy to see why he is instantly smitten with Tomei. The woman of his dreams though has a secret. Thinking she’s married he follows her one night and finds out what it is – she has a grown son (Jonah Hill) who still lives at home.
Their first encounter Hill is polite and though he makes odd awkward jokes (“it’s great to finally have a new dad”) he seems to be cool with Reilly dating his mother. However clues start to form that that’s not the case like when Reilly wakes up the next morning and can’t find his shoes. Over time more clashing occurs when Hill has panic attacks that Reilly suspects are faked. When Hill moves out then wants to move back in, Reilly confronts him and it’s obvious that the weirdness between them has now become war.
Director brothers Jay and Mark Duplass take another step away from the “mumblecore” movement they helped found (their last one was their entertaining indie thriller “Baghead”) here by using name actors and a more conventional structure. Unfortunately they haven’t left behind sloppy camera work – the zoom ins and outs are overdone and the staging of many shots is shakier than shaky cam should be. CYRUS has comic moments, but can’t really be considered a comedy.
Reilly and Hill may be Judd Apatow repertory players, but here they’re servicing a story that tries more for tears than laughs. Although it rarely gets either it’s a quirky diversion that may be worth a film goers’ time depending on whether they are a fan of the actors.
* Roger Ebert, who popularized the term, describes a "meet cute" as when "somebody runs into somebody else, and then something falls, and the two people began to talk, and their eyes meet and they realize that they are attracted to one another."