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August 26, 2011
Review - " Our Idiot Brother "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Our Idiot Brother
Directed by: Jesse Peretz
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily
Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn, Rashida Jones,
Shirley Knight, T.J. Miller

Every family has that one member that you just can’t help but feel sorry
for, yet at the same time want nothing to do with. Our Idiot Brother is a
comedy that follows Ned (Paul Rudd) around as he bounces from each
of his family member’s homes trying to get his life on track, while in the
meantime destroying everyone else’s.

The title, Our Idiot Brother, is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, Paul Rudd's
character, Ned, makes some idiotic decisions in the film, and yes, his
sisters (made up of an ensemble cast including Elizabeth Banks, Zooey
Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer) call him an idiot from time to time. But,
unlike other films revolving around "idiotic characters," like Tommy Boy
and Dumb and Dumberer, Our Idiot Brother has a sense of endearing
innocence that separates it from other films with similar premises.

As previously mentioned, Ned is somebody who makes questionable
decisions. A hippie/environmentalist, he's an optimist through and
through. However, his somewhat naive outlook finds leads him into
sticky situations, resulting in the major conflicts throughout the film.
The film begins with Ned getting fooled into selling a police officer a
bag of weed, not an undercover, but an actual fully uniformed police
officer in broad daylight. You instantly can’t help but fall in love with
Ned’s openhearted, honest, yet completely hopeless character. After
his release from prison, Ned quickly finds out his girlfriend has
replaced him with another fun loving, warm hearted hippie type and tries to fend for himself. Ned finds himself homeless.
Turning to his family for help, he's bumped back and forth among his three sisters: Liz (Mortimer), a yuppie mother whose
husband, Dylan (Steve Coogan), is a documentary director; Miranda (Banks), an aspiring journalist employed at Vanity Fair
who's maybe, possibly, in love with her neighbor, Jeremy (Adam Scott); and Natalie (Deschanel), an aspiring stand-up comic
dating Cindy (Rashida Jones). However, his naivety gets the best of his sisters as his well-meaning nature results in
haphazard situations for each of them.

Ned is not so much an "idiot" as he is just naively innocent and just a well-meaning guy. Ned’s brutally honest character
provides plenty of awkward and funny moments throughout the film and his stress free lifestyle completely clashes with his
sister’s methods.

However, the problem with the film is that it might be more of an end-product of its ensemble cast more than a result of Peretz'
direction. With the exception of Rudd and, to an extent, Jones, the majority of the actors play characters you're sure to be
familiar with if you've seen any of their films over the past few years. For example, Deschanel, as always, plays the cool indie
girl, Banks plays the sexy go-getter, Mortimer plays the motherly/oldest sister figure, Scott plays the reluctant laid-back guy,
Coogan plays the British snob. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally a fan of each of the actors listed and enjoy the characters
they typically play (hence why I'm a fan of them), but it'd be nice to see them out of their comfort zone.

Of course, the pressing
question is whether or not Our
Idiot Brother is funny. In short,
yes, definitely. Rudd has a
great comedic mind and to see
him play somebody so straight-
faced and genuinely inept is
hilarious. If you're expecting
something with slapstick or
toilet humor, this film won't be
for you. But if you're looking for
a character-driven comedy with
heart and morality that isn't
shoved down your throat, Our
Idiot Brother is right down your
alley. All in all the film was
entertaining and worth the
matinée admission but, for
most I would recommend
putting it on the Netflix queue
and waiting a few months to
see it.