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Max’s Rating: 3.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.0/10
(3 reviews total)
Clearly, the goal when watching Our Idiot Brother, is to be reminded of that one family member who you don’t hate; they just drive you a little crazy every now and again. Despite their differences, you still love them and they might even have something to teach you. Sure, it’s a sweet thought; it’s also wildly cliché. And unfortunately, despite the great cast, Our Idiot Brother is packed to the gills with cliché after (tired) cliché.
The story focuses on Ned (Paul Rudd), who after selling pot to a uniformed cop (dumbass), is thrown in jail for eight months. When he gets out, he takes refuge in his mother’s home, but feeling uncomfortable staying there, he shacks up with his sister Liz (Emily Mortimer). Hijinks ensue, all of which (surprise) involve Ned’s inability to keep his mouth shut at the right moments and he is eventually passed off to his other two sisters Miranda and Natalie (Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel, respectively).
What follows is very much a wash, rinse and repeat formula, which for only clocking in at 90 minutes, feels longer than it should be. The strength of the film lies entirely in its capable cast: Rudd is the heart of the ensemble and he does a great job as a likeable guy — it’s just that the character of Ned is not exactly a stretch to portray, comically or otherwise. Another thing is that being likeable (and an idiot) does not necessarily equate to being funny unless you’re one of the Three Stooges. Not to mention the whole Jesus look doesn’t suite Rudd incredibly well.
The supporting cast is rather eclectic with Banks, Mortimer, Deschanel playing off their parts well enough to buy into their respective stereotypes but not enough to make us care. Adam Scott is criminally underused as a “friend” of Banks, while the talented Rashida Jones is relegated to one of the more stereotypical lesbians (in a relationship with Deschanel) onscreen in recent memory. All of them are very capable in their comic timing. None of them are given much of an opportunity to shine.
This issue lies mostly in the script. It’s lazy, full of too many stoner moments where Ned simply goes “whoa” in an attempt to make incoherent thought funny. Despite being an R-rated comedy, the jokes feel overly safe or — in the case of the sisters — downright bitchy. It’s all too easy for them to blame Ned for their own problems and the turnaround time — where they go from hating to loving him — is so fast it borders on being the only laughable point of the movie. Even the outtakes during the credits fall flat.
There are one or two points to smile and/or reminisce (and a dog to coo over) in Our Idiot Brother, but not enough to warrant a strong recommendation. What’s on display is likely nothing you haven’t seen in your own family and would you honestly pay for that?
Our Idiot Brother
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Written by Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, Adam Scott
Other Player Affinity Staff Reviews
Steven thought: “Rudd plays the comedy everyman as good if not better than anybody in today’s comedies, yet no one’s surprised when he takes a role like that of Ned and hits a home run with it. Our Idiot Brother gives us the best of both Rudd-worlds. Peretz’s film also exists in an uncomfortable middle ground between modern comedy and indie family dramedy, which would explain why it has been met with mixed criticism. It succeeds mostly when looked at as a simple comedy with honest truths and strong performances. Although mostly predictable in story structure and themes, the film never falls apart thanks to poor characters. Without them, it would be hard to look past the obvious conventions, but they and the general high jinks Ned finds himself in keep you smiling. The optimism Ned preaches guides the rest. The scenarios feel less contrived and more like sincere approaches to the question of how someone who’s so honest and looking to appease yet so ignorant of consequences would cause himself problems. His sisters’ reactions might be overblown, but the conclusion ends up quite sweet.” Rating: 7/10
Simon thought: “Our Idiot Brother is an oddity of a film that contains very few moments where mirth upwells spontaneously, but is still impossible not to walk away from with an ear-to-ear grin. The abundance of charm emanates almost exclusively from the stellar work from Paul Rudd as the titular oaf, a role that in the wrong hands could have been unbearable. Rudd makes a lovable, sympathetic, but significantly more complex individual than what the script seems to demand (and the abundance of great supporting actors doesn’t hurt either). The three principle females portrayed by Deschanel, Banks and Mortimer are written as bitchy, manipulative individuals for most of the movie before their respective catharses, but considering how Rudd’s Ned screws up their lives (though unintentionally so) you really can’t blame them for going off the deep end. Our Idiot Brother is a little gem, which, despite some tonal flaws, acts as a showcase for one of the best modern comedians.” Rating: 7.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.0/10