by Staff Writer Aileen Cacayorin (@A1L33N)
Ever since Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I’ve wanted to see an entire film based around Paul Rudd’s beach bum stoner character, Kunu. Our Idiot Brother isn’t exactly that, but it’s pretty close.
Paul Rudd plays Ned, a biodynamic farmer, perpetually optimistic, openhearted, sweet, and far too trusting, or, as in the opening scene of the film, far too gullible. So gullible in fact, that he sells pot to a cop in uniform, landing him in jail for 8 months. His arrest is the catalyst that brings him back into the lives of his sisters, and the film sets up each one right away: Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), a neurotic and career driven journalist on the brink of her first major article, Liz (Emily Mortimer), a meek and mousy suburban mom, constantly frazzled by her family life and husband (Steve Coogan), and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), a bisexual living the hipster lifestyle with partner Cindy (Rashida Jones).
The movie itself is predictable enough and follows a pretty standard formula. Ned takes a turn as a house guest at each of his sisters’ homes and in doing so, disrupts their seemingly perfect lives, bringing their problems front and center, for which they all turn on each other and blame Ned. Even less surprising is the sisters’ realization of how important their brother is, the ties that bind them, and the usual heartwarming resolution that brings them all closer together.
The movies relies on its uniformly strong cast, though mainly on Paul Rudd’s performance. Rudd brings his usual likability and charm, and you can’t help but endear to his upbeat and sweet, genuinely open Ned. He’s as lovable as the loyal golden retriever he is devoted to, aptly named Willie Nelson. Also appearing in the film as Miranda’s “platonic” neighbor friend is Adam Scott, and just as with Seth Rogen in 40 Year Old Virgin, you wish there were a few more scenes of Rudd and Scott just riffing off of each other. I’ve always been a fan of Elizabeth Banks, and her shrill brand of high strung comedy is a welcome addition to the movie. Likewise, Zooey Deschanel also brings her usual wide-eyed, cute aloofness that audiences have come to love.
Occasionally, the movie moves a bit too slowly, almost lackadaisically, perhaps to mirror Ned’s laid back and carefree personality, but I’m not giving the film’s director (Jesse Peretz) that much credit. Our Idiot Brother is never raucously laugh-out-loud funny, but the jokes are consistent enough. The laughs don’t come from visual gags or ridiculous scenarios, but from real and relatable reactions that are true to character. For example, in one scene, Ned reveals to Miranda that her friend (who she had just insisted that she could never be attracted to) likewise does not find her physically attractive. Miranda’s miffed double take to the news is something all girls (and probably their guy friends) can knowingly chuckle at.
The movie also tries to hard too be quirky, but it comes off more uneven. Nevertheless, Our Idiot Brother is well-intentioned and sweet, and just like the brother in question, you can’t help but at least like it.
I give it 3 Babbles out of 5.