CYRUS feels like a small film, which isn't at all a bad thing. The characters don't do anything particularly audacious, nothing too wild or twisting occurs, even central conflicts and misunderstandings are subdued. We've all seen films and television episodes that have utilized a similar story about a troublesome child getting in the way of his/her parent's new relationship (even "Full House" did it), but they all end up going overboard. The title character, wonderfully acted by Jonah Hill, is obviously messed up and the fact that this gets mentioned is great because behaving so bizarrely isn't justifiable otherwise. Yet, despite his defects he never does anything too ridiculous. His actions are subtle, more calculated and certainly more than enough to get a reaction out of John C. Reilly, who is also great in the film. Reilly also doesn't play into the typical role of the suitor in this type of story. Even though he, as an actor, seems almost predisposed to playing a bumbling sort of character, he never goes there. He's sensitive to his girlfriend's (Marisa Tomei) feelings, but he's not stupid and he doesn't put up with Cyrus' games for very long. This shift in characters towards being more realistic and human is refreshing and breathes meaning into this tired, cliche plot. The film focuses more on the characters' relationships and the tension between Hill and Reilly than any specific actions or gags. That this was done so successfully is the mark of good writing and skillful directors. Also, the presentation of the parallel and similar lives of both men was very well done without being overstated.
The only issue I have with the film is slight: I would like a little more information on Tomei's character. We see the film from Reilly's perspective, but she's almost as important a character. I'm not asking for a lot of exposition, just a little more maybe.