movie poster claims “Everybody has one” and that is quite possibly true – the
oddball relative who follows the beat of a different drummer and confounds
Rochlin (Paul Rudd) is the bane of his three sisters’ existences. He a low-key
hippieish guy who is always in and out of trouble and his fast track sisters
– the aspiring journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), the artsy bi-sexual
Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and the unhappily married mom Liz (Emily Mortimer)
always feel like it is up to them to pick up the pieces for the guy. Even
though they love him they have pretty much had enough.
However, calling him an idiot – which his sisters do with some regularity –
is unwarranted. Ned might be overly naďve and is certainly way too trusting
and good natured, but he is not exactly what you would call stupid. He just
believes way too much in the essential goodness of human nature, but that is
a personality trait, not an intellectual one.
is so blindly trusting that he is willing to give pot to an uniformed police
officer just because the officer insists that he is in the midst of a crisis
in his life.
Idiotic? Perhaps. But it also shows a certain degree of kindness, knowing
that the cop could be setting him up and still trying in his own way to make
another creature happy.
Because, truthfully, happiness is really what Ned is all about. He doesn’t
want to worry about the circumstances and the repercussions; he just wants
to do what he can to make himself and those around him content.
just wants to hang with his dog, grow his vegetables and smoke his weed in
peace. Honestly, it’s not too much to ask.
Looking at how overwrought and angst-filled his sisters are, Ned sort of
comes out looking like the smart one. He will not be overwhelmed by life’s
petty dramas. Not when there is so much beauty to be seen and experienced.
a funny idea for a movie and one that Our Idiot Brother mostly sells
rather smoothly – what if the guy considered a head case by all around him
is actually much more content with his lot and trustworthy than the more
respectable people in his life?
has played this kind of pleasantly stoned dude before – his supporting role
as a surf instructor in Forgetting Sarah Marshall could easily be
Ned’s long lost brother. Rudd does it well, though, wringing laughs out
of sometimes uncomfortable situations and also giving Ned a surprisingly deep
well of feeling and pathos.
sisters are honestly a little harder to like, but thankfully they are all
played by hip, quirky, very funny actresses who are able to give the
characters a little more shape and nuance than probably appeared on the page.
Banks and Deschanel are forces of nature – blinded by their ambition and
their foibles, but still fully realized and complex characters. Mortimer is
given less to do as the overwhelmed and suspicious housewife, though she
does have some fine, terse moments with her philandering spouse (played by
fellow Brit actor Steve Coogan.)
Our Idiot Brother
has an extraordinarily
deep cast of fine actors. Beyond the ones mentioned above there are such
terrific talents as Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) as Natalie’s
lesbian lover, a nearly unrecognizable Hugh Dancy (Adam) as a sleazy
yoga instructor, Adam Scott (also from Parks and Recreation) as
Miranda’s unhappily platonic friend, Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan)
as Ned’s petulant hippie-chick ex, T.J. Miller (She’s Out of My League)
as her laid back new guy and the always dependable Shirley Knight as the quietly wise
storyline of Our Idiot Brother clunks occasionally, but most often it
is a good-naturedly funny
parody of both the hippie and big city lifestyles. Much like Ned himself, all the movie really wants
to do is make you happy. It mostly succeeds.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 26, 2011.