Our Idiot Brother

20 Sep

Title: Our Idiot Brother
Jesse Peretz
Writers: David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz, based on a story by themselves and Jesse Peretz
Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott
MPAA Rating: 
R, sexual content including nudity, and for language throughout
90 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
Rotten Tomatoes: 


The level of expectation I had for this film was pretty crazy and, you know what, even though it was still a seriously good movie, it just didn’t quite get there. I wanted this film to be a solid A grade for me, maybe even a weak A+ if I got lucky, but we got something that was a bit off from that plateau of amazingness. The reason for the salivation this film caused in me was simple: its cast. Seriously, just take a look at those names: Paul Rudd, one of my Top 3 mancrushes; Elizabeth Banks, a hilarious and talented woman; Zooey Deschanel, my #1 crush who can do no wrong; Emily Mortimer, an actress with a lovely accent who has been great in Shutter Island and Match Point among others; Rashida Jones, another woman who I seriously adore and who rocks at everything she does, especially Parks and Recreation; Adam Scott, another Parks and Rec alum who’s just seriously awesome. So yeah, even though the movie is uneven at times, just that cast alone makes Our Idiot Brother too damn charming to find much fault in.

And really, that’s pretty much what Our Idiot Brother relies on the most: its charm. I mean, look at that cast again and that’s pretty much the one word that would seem to describe all of them the best, that or “adorable” or “insanely likable” which pretty much all mean the same thing. And this film knows that, it just coasts by on the charm of Mr. Rudd because it can, and because that really serves the sweetness of this film, the niceness of it all. Because even though the title of this film refers to an idiot, the idiot is played by Mr. Rudd which inherently makes him a likable idiot, not to mention that he’s not an idiot in the sense that he does mean stuff, but in the sense that he’s too trusting and too honest, he’s an idiot in the sense that he’s too much of a good guy that it actually ends up going all wrong.

Not to say that the film starts getting overly sweet, not at all, if anything it gets to be a bit bittersweet in this indie-movie kind of way that really works for it. And so that it doesn’t go too overboard on the man-child immaturity displayed by Mr. Rudd’s Ned, it presents us with his sisters, three different but correct women who consider him an idiot, and that allows the film to give us this kind of quirky exploration of the relationships of grown-up siblings that’s actually really nicely developed. Yes, it’s kind of predictable the paths this film takes at times, you know that at first it’ll seem like the whole issue is about Ned’s inability or lack of desire to grow up, but then it comes to happen that it’s him, and his idiocy and sort of positive-vibes lifestyle that go on to help and show his sisters that they’re actually not as happy or fulfilled as they could be.

And you really believe Mr. Rudd as Ned, this guy who’s always smiling, seeing the bright side of things, not holding any grudges and genuinely wishing everybody the best. It’s because of this attitude that when we see Ned selling under-the-counter marihuana to a cop in uniform just because the policeman promised him it was only because he was having a bad day we believe that as something that would certainly happen to this character. This is the kind of innocent hippie that could only be played by Paul Rudd, actually, because otherwise Ned would be a pretty unbearable character to watch for ninety minutes, this guy knows perfectly well how to be sweet without being too sweet, how to cause trouble but not be hatable just because of how innocently honest he is. But anyways, he’s thrown in jail and four months later (for being named most cooperative inmate) he gets out on parole only to find out that Janet, his ladyfriend played by Kathryn Hahn, has moved on with another guy and doesn’t want to give him custody of the dog they shared, a dog that’s named Willie Nelson.

After that, Ned goes to crash with all of his sisters, shaking up their lives considerably in the process. First of is Liz, played by Ms. Mortimer, an anxious mother who has a rather hollow marriage with a filmmaker played by Steve Coogan. Then you have Miranda, the character played by Ms. Banks, an insecure but highly ambitious writer who wants to have her big break and land a job at Vanity Fair. And finally you have Natalie, the character played by the lovely Ms. Deschanel, she’s an artist’s model who wants to be some sort of performer and who may or may not be a lesbian but who’s certainly in love with Cindy, played by Ms. Jones, and is getting closer to actually getting to commit to a serious relationship. Cindy, by the way, other than being played by the awesome Ms. Jones, is actually a lesbian character that’s free of all of those lesbian comedy clichés, which I thought was nice to see.

The film may be a bit too thin at times, I’ll concede to that, but I mean, it has a cast that’s just so damn skillful at playing these characters and just so likable that you can’t help but fall for it all, not to mention that the script is really witty and I thought provided a lot of very good moments. This is movie that’s so incredibly good-hearted, and in the most honest and non-gratuitous of ways, that you forgive any and all little missteps and overly-happy endings it may have. Mr. Rudd proves once again why he’s the guy you’d most want as a best friend, and his co-stars all do a supreme job at handling their characters as well, Ms. Jones most of all, even when, like in the case of Miranda, those characters are more ideas than fully fleshed personalities, they do a lot to bring them to life in the best of ways. I really liked this film, it may be too light or silly for some, but it was too charming for me to try and put on my sophisticated film viewer hat, I just loved every second of it.

Grade: A-


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