“Been in kind of a dark, existential place, to tell you the truth and then… I met your mom.”
The marketing and casting of Cyrus created expectations for an offbeat comedy, confusing audiences who received more of an unsettling indie flick, written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill both offer surprising performances, Hill through understated creepiness, whilst Reilly flexes his nuanced acting abilities in role of an affable, neurotic and world-weary man with hints of the star turn he would take a few years later in Wreck-It Ralph. Marisa Tomei deftly makes the unusual central relationships believable. The film flounders structurally, taking over an hour of its 91-minute running time to set up the conflict between John and Cyrus, leaving its final act feeling hurried and lacking in any real depth. On the other hand, the time devoted to John and Molly’s relationship ensures that the audience remains invested in its success. Cyrus flirts with a darker tone but never really commits, resulting in a pleasantly unusual film without the edge it might have had in different hands.
“I think Nick Fury just hijacked our summer vacation.”
With Avengers: Endgame the obvious culmination of Marvel’s epic decade-spanning story arc, it seemed a little odd that Phase 3 would actually conclude with a Spider-Man film, but it actually makes a lot of sense to address the aftermath of those momentous events in a smaller interstitial that shows life in the MCU goes on. The breezy globe-trotting harkens back to the lighter entertainment of the early MCU, at its strongest in the more personal stories of Peter’s pursuit of MJ and his struggle with the loss of his mentor. This is not to detract from Jake Gyllenhaal’s wonderfully charismatic Mysterio, who makes it believable that Peter would latch onto him as a surrogate for Stark. The early fights benefit from a smaller scale, particularly in Venice where we stick with Spider-man as he works damage control while a battle rages between Mysterio and an elemental in the background; by the time we reach London, the drone-filled conclusion is CGI bombast over careful choreography. All of which goes to show that there is plenty of space for purely entertaining outings with characters old and new in the MCU. From where its future depth will come remains to be seen.