Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor
Our Idiot Brother might have been called Hippiepalooza. You can almost smell the clove cigarettes, incense, and spilled bong water wafting from the screen into the theatre.
Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man; Dinner for Schmucks) plays Ned, the idiot borther. He’s a good-natured, carefree hippie who’s never held down a full-time job. His goals in life are playing with his nephew and caring for his dog, Willie Nelson. Ned’s philosophy is: “If you put your trust in other people, they will rise to the occasion.”
Immediately proving his theory wrong, the film opens with Ned selling pot to a uniformed police officer and spending eight months in jail. When he’s released early for being “most cooperative inmate,” his former girlfriend has shacked up on their goat farm with a new dude. Ned has nowhere to go. He bounces from his mom’s house (Shirley Knight) to married sister, Liz (Emily Mortimer); to his ambitious sister, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks); to bi-sexual sister, Natalie (Zooey Deschanel); and her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones).
The resulting family drama is what Ned refers to as a “breakdown in communication.” Much like his dog, Ned just wants to love and be loved. Instead, he becomes the family scapegoat for his sisters’ misguided choices and/or misfortunes. Despite their apparent dysfunction, the entire family manages to get together once a week for dinner at mom’s house. Can’t they all just get along?
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Our Idiot Brother is flawlessly cast. It appears the actors had fun making it. Mostly, the film is a vehicle for Paul Rudd to explore the character development of an unconventional and tolerant guy who just wants to enjoy his family and play charades.
I think we all wish adult life could be simpler, but I, for one, am not willing to live with my mom to avoid stress and responsibility like Ned. No offense. I love my mom, BTW.
My favorite scenes were Ned with his ex-girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and her new beau, Billy (T.J. Miller). After they harsh each other’s vibes, you can imagine them laughing between takes at the clever lines and enjoying the ease they seem to have together.
I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out something more to add about this movie. It wasn’t horrible; it wasn’t great. It didn’t really have an impact on me. I watched quirky, top-notch actors for ninety minutes. Then I went home and forgot about them. I will say Paul Rudd is exceptional. During a family parlor game, his authentic performance hushed the laughing crowd. He can be serious, laid back, and funny all while being true to himself.
If you see the film, stick around for some entertaining outtakes during the closing credits.
Peace, love and compassion, man.
Our Idiot Brother opens in theatres August 26th. The official website is www.ouridiotbrother.com.
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