Synopsis: Scruffy idealist Ned (Paul Rudd) wreaks havoc on the lives of his mother (Shirley Knight) and three sisters, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), and Liz (Emily Mortimer), while overstaying his welcome in each of their homes and voicing his opinions when they aren’t wanted. Organic farmer Ned always looks for the best in everyone, but his unfailing honesty continually lands him in hot water. Arrested for selling drugs to a uniformed police officer, Ned gets the boot from his girlfriend, and mourns losing custody of his beloved dog, Willie Nelson. Fortunately for Ned, his sisters are able to recognize his inherent goodness and give him a place to stay as he struggles to get back on his feet. Meanwhile, Ned’s unusual habit of telling the truth often comes at the cost of his siblings’ sanity, and before long they’re regretting their decision to help him out. But just when it starts to look as if Ned might be the dimmest bulb in the box, a sudden epiphany prompts his entire family to consider the prospect that the world would be a much better place if everyone were as honest as their freewheeling brother. Steve Coogan and Hugh Dancy co-star.
Release Date: August 26, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Paul Rudd (Role Models) stars as idealistic hippie Ned, the titular idiot brother in Our Idiot Brother. Upon being released from prison, the lovable Ned finds out that his girlfriend has been living with another guy, is throwing him out of their home and is keeping his dog, a golden retriever named Willie Nelson. With nowhere else to go, Ned is forced to stay with his sisters. He means well, but ends up messing up each of their lives in the process. One of Ned’s sisters, Miranda (played by Elizabeth Banks, Miri from Zack and Miri Make a Porno) is a rising journalist who has just been assigned the story of her career, only to have Ned screw it up for her by making friends with the subject of her interview. Meanwhile, another sister of Ned’s named Liz (Emily Mortimer from Lars and the Real Girl) is in the middle of a failing marriage, and Ned seemingly feeds the flames by discovering her husband Dylan’s (Steve Coogan from 24 Hour Party People) infidelity. Finally, Ned finds out that his third sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel from (500) Days of Summer), a bisexual struggling stand-up comic, is pregnant and inadvertently spills the beans to her live-in girlfriend, Cindy (“Parks and Recreation’s” Rashida Jones). All three sisters blame Ned for the mishaps in their lives, but eventually they must come to grips with the fact that their problems are their own and that Ned is simply the messenger.
Written by Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall, and directed by Evgenia’s brother Jesse Peretz (The Ex), Our Idiot Brother doesn’t have much of a plot. The film is completely made up of subplots, and the subplots do not interweave at all. It comes off as a loose framework for the three sisters’ stories, tied together by the common thread of Ned. While all three sisters undergo a classic character arc, the Ned that the audience sees at the beginning of the movie is the same Ned that they see at the end. While his family is going through all its stress and strife (for which he is being blamed), his main conflict in the story is getting his dog back from his ex-girlfriend. The movie is devoid of any real heart, drama or humor, although it does have an ending that is toothache sweet.
The acting in Our Idiot Brother is better than average, but nothing spectacular. Rudd and all three sisters carry the film, and their performances are the only things that make the film watchable. The movie is an obvious vehicle for Rudd, and he plays the same type of character that he plays in all of his films. The real surprise is the chemistry between the sisters. Each woman is great individually, but when Banks, Mortimer and Deschanel interact with each other, the audience really feels the sisterly love and hate. Even when they are fighting, the girls, along with Rudd, put out the all-for-one vibe that real siblings possess. The acting is not quite good enough to save the silly episodic script, but it does help make the film more tolerable.
Our Idiot Brother fails at its most basic task – it’s not funny. Instead of humor that rises out of the situation, the film delivers its scant laughs in the form of snappy throwaway lines of dialogue, and even those are few and far between. The movie is clearly a Paul Rudd film, but without the presence of any of his usual comic allies, the humor falls short of its potential. While many of the situations that Ned gets into, whether his fault or not, could be hilarious, the audience simply ends up feeling sorry for him. Our Idiot Brother is way too thin on laughs to be called a comedy.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jesse PeretzMarc Turtletaub
- Producer(s): Evgenia PeretzDavid Schisgall
- Screenwriter(s): Paul Rudd (Ned)Elizabeth Banks (Miranda)Zooey Deschanel (Natalie)
- Story: Emily Mortimer (Liz)
- Cast: Rashida Jones (Cindy)Steve Coogan (Dylan)Hugh Dancy (Christian) Jacob CraycroftAndrew MondsheinYaron OrbachInbal Weinberg
- Cinematographer: Eric D. Johnson
- Production Designer(s):
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- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
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- Country Of Origin: USA