Our Idiot Brother

The Reel Deal

OUR IDIOT BROTHER

A Reel Deal Film Review

Film Insight by Tyler Malone

September 2011


Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5

“A LOVABLE IDIOT”

Our Idiot Brother, like its protagonist, is far from perfect. It makes mistakes, meanders a bit, is perhaps a tad too sweet for it’s own good, and could have probably benefited from a little more brains and balls. And yet, also like its protagonist, it is entirely lovable. I must say that I was truly surprised how much I enjoyed this film.

Ned, the main character, is the kind of role Paul Rudd was born to play. The character could have easily become a caricature–a two-dimensional dolt, nothing more than a punchline–but Rudd breathes life into him. Paul Rudd is a likable actor with an underrated talent. I can’t imagine a more engaging or entertaining “idiot brother” than his Ned. Other actors would have either hammed up the ridiculousness or spread the pathos on a little too think, but Rudd plays it like baby bear porridge–just right.

The basic set-up is as follows: After Ned sells (or basically gives) weed to a seemingly down-and-out cop (even though the cop is in his uniform), Ned goes to jail. Upon release, he finds that his girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) with whom he has lived has not only replaced him with another loveable idiot (T. J. Miller), but has also decided that she will keep his dog, Willie Nelson. So Ned is forced to stay with various members of his family–his mother (the great Shirley Knight), and his three sisters: Liz (Emily Mortimer, whose character is married to an ass portrayed perfectly by Steve Coogan), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks as a somewhat bitchy writer), and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel playing out of type as a bisexual nympho, with a girlfriend played by Rashida Jones). As one can see by the cast, there’s no lack of comedic talent in this production–and strangely, all different styles of comedic acting, which manage to meld in this movie and not seem too disjointed, as it could have easily been. Anyways, as expected, chaos ensues, or else we wouldn’t have a movie, and he manages to turn his family’s world upside-down.

As Ned quickly turns his entire family against him, because he’s constantly saying or doing the wrong thing, he wins us over. Though he is a bit of an idiot, he’s also much more likable, and much more sincere than anyone else in the movie.

In this way, it’s hard not to fall for these girls’ idiot brother, and subsequently for Our Idiot Brother as a whole. It is not up to Little Miss Sunshine status, or anything of that sort, but it’s better than a lot of other so-called “heartfelt comedies” out there–better in the humor department and in the heart department. It had just the right amount of humor and heart to allow me to overlook some of it’s flaws. And okay, maybe it was a bit too sappy and cleanly ended, but I was surprisingly fine with it. Sometimes a predictable “Hollywood happy ending” isn’t always as ill-advised as I’d have believed. I have to admit: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. And I think you might too if you’ll let your guard down and just enjoy the performances and laugh a bit.

Our Idiot Brother is a film directed by Jesse Peretz, written by David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz. It stars Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones and Steve Coogan. A comedy centered on an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters.

LINKS:

Our Idiot Brother Official Site

Our Idiot Brother IMDb

Written by Tyler Malone

Photography Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Design by Jillian Mercado

 

 

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