Our Idiot Brother (2011)
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Tinged with raw emotion, joy, and love, Our Idiot Brother explores the life of a family in need of a little fun (actor Adam Scott describes the film as a “famedy,” a family comedy). Director Jesse Peretz (The Ex) could have sewn the loose edges a bit more tediously, but his finished project is still a laugh-out-loud comedy of wit.
Croc-wearing, bearded, bumbling hipster Ned (Paul Rudd) is released from prison after selling marijuana to a uniformed police officer, but he is not stupid. He loves people too much, that’s his real problem. When his ex (Kathryn Hahn) and his three sisters (an interesting trio of Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel) all turn him down, Ned must reside temporarily with his mother (Shirley Knight). Eventually, his sisters decide to pawn him back and forth until they all grow tired of his presence. Ned exposes crumbling relationships, immorality, and the truth in each of his sisters, but their pitiful self-reliance hinders them from realizing Ned’s true gift…unconditional love.
Rudd finds his perfect fit as the wayward goofball, but some of the other actors seem out of their comfort zone. Deschanel, one of the most lovable actresses of our day, doesn’t quite fit her niche in her hit-or-miss role as Nat, a dirty stand-up comedian, lesbian, and adulteress. She has the same look, charm, and wit as the actress we’ve grown to love, but with a few uncomfortable sex lines thrown in. Perhaps the awkward factor was what Peretz was aiming for, but a line was crossed when Deschanel was cast for the role.
The plot busied when multiple affairs were discovered in a short amount of time, and none were discussed with the emotional depth necessary to pull off the feat. The resolutions seemed easy and quickened by a hoped-for summer cinema release. Writers David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz (the director is her idiot brother) could have worked on the rough borders longer than they did, and could have put together a much better, more engaging film.
The script, nevertheless, is filled with gut-busting lines, helped tremendously by the comedic cast, which also included the hysterical Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder) and T.J. Miller (Extract). Ned’s family’s embarrassment with their brother leads to some entertaining lines in defense of his actions.
Not afraid of showing his emotions, Ned bursts out during a family game of charades where he shouts “Why can’t you all just play?!” after his sisters ruin the game for he and his young nephew (Matthew Mindler). Ned teaches us all to enjoy the simple things in life, and that is always a welcome suggestion.