Mark and Jay Duplass create an interesting character and an interesting scenario. They simply don't go far enough with it. The two filmmakers who co-directed show us a weird and funny rivalry but where another filmmaker would have gone long, the Duplass brothers cut it short.
As funny, quirky and endearing as the opening of this movie is, I felt that it was unnecessary. It consists of the Duplass brothers establishing the character of John, played by Oscar-nominee John C. Reilly. He's a divorced, middle-aged man who's slubby. His ex-wife invites him to a party where he is awkward and has no luck talking to any of the girls. He gets drunk and dances like a fool.
All of this sets up his introduction to Molly, played by Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei. For some reason Molly is attracted to John. Maybe it's because he reminds her of the father of her son, Cyrus, played by Jonah Hill (Superbad). Of course, we never see or know what Cyrus' father looks like or what happened to make him not be in his son's life. One can guess that it's because the son is an adult, yet still living at home with his mother, and having a weirdly intimate relationship with her that is borderline sexual.
When John starts to show interest in Molly in ways that are also borderline sexual and in fact moreso, Cyrus does what he can to sabotage John's relationship. John realizes Cyrus' intention and decides to fight back, except both hide it from Molly, so a secret tug-of-war begins. The only problem is that the secret tug-of-war takes too long to kick off. The setup and build-up to it is nearly two-thirds of the movie and then once it begins, you only get a couple of scenes before it's all over.
I was left unsatisfied as a result. I would have loved for the stakes to have been risen. I would have wanted more battle scenes between Cyrus and John and for there to be an increasing level of rivalry between them, but that didn't happen. The Duplass boys derail the whole thing just as it's getting somewhere. I loved seeing Reilly doing the Duplass-style humor. Their filmmaking and acting style, specifically Mark Duplass' acting style, is pretty signature.
It along with the Duplass' writing is really good, but if this were a meal, the Duplass brothers give us a lot of hors d'oeuvres and hardly any of the entrée. It's more or less an odd, little dish.
Three Stars out of Five Rated R for language and some sexual content Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.