Cert: TBA Runtime: 90 mins Director: Jesse Peretz Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Steve Coogan
This is like free therapy. New York State cares
Paul Rudd has been a very popular comedy actor recently, after a few good performances in Role Models and I Love You Man he returns with Our Idiot Brother.Ned (Paul Rudd) lived a happy life growing organic vegetables on a farm with his hippie girlfriend and his dog named Willie Nelson, but an unadvised incident with marijuana at a farmer’s market lands him in jail. When he gets out of jail, he is off to live with his sisters. While Ned is still happy, his sisters are much less so after he manages to screw up one marriage, one job opportunity, one budding relationship and one domestic partnership. He sees those problems as breakdowns in communication, but his sisters see him as an idiot.”Our Idiot Brother” is enjoyable enough to watch, but its main weaknesses come by way of its own identity crisis. It doesn’t really know what kind of movie it wants to be. As a comedy, it’s funny enough. As a story, it feels like dozens of other movies I’ve seen before.The main premise of the movie is a man-child finds himself in dire circumstances, and moves in with family who act like the grown-ups they are. This slacker is also so thoughtless that his bad habits get in the way of his family members tending to their responsibilities.Plus, this movie also has a saga built in about three sisters. Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a single workaholic who is moving up the corporate ladder as an entertainment journalist, Liz (Emily Mortimer) is a stay-at-home mom, and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) is a free spirit, a very amateur stand-up comedian, and a lesbian. One of these women is cheating on their significant other, and the other is the one being cheated on.In this film, not only do the three actresses look unrelated, but they don’t really have any chemistry between them. When they sit together and talk about how messed up each sister thinks the lives of her other two sisters are, there’s no poignancy in the scene at all. They talk at each other, not to each other. Most importantly, their frustration against their “Idiot Brother” Ned (Paul Rudd), after whom the film is named, doesn’t feel right.
To Rudd’s credit, he does have some laugh-out-loud lines he delivers with deadpan perfection. He also has the charisma and charm to carry a leading role like this one. This movie would be completely forgettable without him in the lead. There are also some surprisingly good supporting performances by the wonderful Rashida Jones, who plays Natalie’s partner Cindy, and Adam Scott, whose face you would know if you saw him. Sterling K. Brown, who plays Ned’s parole officer, and Janet Montgomery, as celebutante Lady Arabella, also deliver delightful, stand-out acting jobs despite their brief appearances.No one really acted badly in this movie. The problem lay in the story, which seemed stitched together from other comedies I’ve seen before. Plus, the editing needed major work. When you’re introduced to the sisters in the beginning, you don’t get a good sense of what kind of characters they are, and you never do throughout the rest of the film. Plus, the matriarch of this family (Shirley Knight), is completely forgettable. During crucial, climactic moments in which she is present, she does and says absolutely nothing. Why even have a parent if you’re not going to use them?”Our Idiot Brother” is funny at times, but not great. Anytime a funny line or moment occurs, the rest of the film almost begs to be more original. Paul Rudd’s Ned is most definitely a slacker, but unfortunately, the story feels like one also.6.3/10