Granted, any movie starring Paul Rudd is – by definition – worth watching. However, in spite of outward appearances, “Our Idiot Brother” does not really star Rudd.
Sure, the title refers to his character and he is the only member of the cast featured on the film’s poster but this is all misleading marketing in an effort to capitalize on that aforementioned fact. Instead, David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz’s screenplay pushes Rudd into the background as a mere pawn for the ensemble cast to dance around.
Rudd plays Ned, an erstwhile organic farmer whose willingness to rely on the honesty of mankind is a less-than-optimum strategy for a tidy, trouble-free existence. Lacking in any common sense whatsoever, Ned attempts to sell marijuana to a uniformed police officer – a mistake that lands him behind bars.
Upon his release, Ned is dumped by his girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) who, in turn, boots him off the farm, leaving the perennially upbeat man with nowhere left to turn except for his three sisters: Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) – each of whom happen to have issues of their own.
As each woman take a turn at housing Ned, their brother’s unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But as each of their lives begins to unravel, Ned’s family comes to realize that maybe, in believing and trusting the people around him; Ned is not such an idiot after all.
In other words, “Our Idiot Brother” is a dysfunctional family dramedy masquerading as a quirky character comedy akin to “Dumb and Dumber.” Of course, it does not help matters that Ned is the only likeable character in the entire movie. Ned may be naïve but at least he is not a self-absorbed donkey like each and every one of his family and friends.
Moreover, despite what Schisgall and Peretz may believe they accomplished with “Our Idiot Brother’s” conclusion, that is not something that changes during the film’s resolution. On the other hand, the flick features a stellar cast. In addition to those already mentioned, the movie also boasts Rashida Jones, Steve Coogan, Adam Scott and T.J. Miller.
But, unfortunately, it wastes them all. “Our Idiot Brother’s” worst offense is preventing its ensemble cast – Rudd included – from breaking through their art. In other words, these characters never appear as anything other than performers playing parts. If the story were not so sitcom-like, this would have definitely not been the case.
“Our Idiot Brother” (R – 90 minutes) is now playing at movie theaters throughout the Valley. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.