Shot in a documentary style, the first few scenes engage the audience, and the early scene in which John C Reilly attends a party to celebrate the engagement of his ex-wife and gets incredibly drunk is actually quite funny.
The story follows John (John C Reilly) as he embarks on a quest for love with Molly (Marisa Tomei) and tries to move on from his ex (Catherine Keener). This aspect of the plot is pleasant and there are moments when we genuinely feel for John and want this to work out, and Tomei is great as the fun-loving singleton he falls for.
Then enters Molly’s son: Jonah Hill’s Cyrus. If we are to view this character from the comedy perspective, this is a weird kid, into playing synth and spying on his mum’s new guy; however, there are numerous unexplored elements of Hill’s character, and this is what really lets the film down.
Cyrus and his mother have been living without another man in their lives for years, and the bond between them is understandably strong. Yet, Jay and Mark Duplass play this for comic value, whereas in keeping with the ‘realistic’ filming style of the film, this relationship triangle would have worked much better with some empathy thrown in. It feels at times like Cyrus is being treated as a special needs kid for comic reasons, rather than actually exploring the character and getting to the root of his neuroses, and there are far too many shots of Reilly looking confused and disgusted at Molly and Cyrus’ friendship, rather than understanding their way of living.
Despite the lack of depth to the character, Hill is excellent, but would have benefited from a better script and fewer jokes directed at his relationship with his mother, which is presented as weird and almost Oedipal when in fact it feels as though their connection lies innocently in the fact that they have only had each other to rely on for so long.
There are a couple of funny scenes that take place between Reilly and Hill, yet these were almost all ruined by being shown already in the trailer, and so there are no comic surprises in this film: just an enormous lack of human emotion and understanding.
Despite having a great cast, Jay and Mark Duplass fail to bring empathy or warmth to their relationship-saturated, yet oddly uncaring story, and never achieve the ‘indie’ vibe they are clearly striving for.