Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews Our Idiot Brother
Our Idiot Brother stars Paul Rudd as Ned, the type of affable burnout who would do the “good deed” of selling a bag of pot to a seemingly depressed cop, thereby landing himself in jail. Ned is the type of upbeat idealist who can’t help but to see the best in people – an important quality when dealing with three crazy sisters, one of whom is a buttoned-down bore (Emily Mortimer), one who is a career-obsessed cutthroat (Elizabeth Banks), and another who is a selfishly hedonistic hipster (Zooey Deschanel).
But as ol’ Ned might say – if you just stay positive, and have faith that people can be their best selves, more often than not they will rise to the occasion.
Our Idiot Brother is one of those rare films which manages to strike a uniquely charming chord that’s hard not to enjoy. The story of the film (by first-time screenwriters David Shisgall and Evgenia Peretz) has a very episodic structure – Ned bouncing from sister to sister causing chaos in their respective troubled lives – but those episodes are each filled with some very enjoyable moments thanks to a strong cast – and in the end, the shenanigans actually have a nice feel-good dramatic payoff.
Aside from the aforementioned main players, the ensemble cast includes familiar (and likable) comedic actors like Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation), Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder), Rashida Jones (Park & Recreation), Kathryn Hahn (Hung), Shirley Knight (Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Janet Montgomery (Human Target) and T.J. Miller (She’s Out of My League). On their own, each member of the cast has proven their comedic worth – as an ensemble, they play well off one another and have great rapport, making the film a genuinely enjoyable journey from scene to and scene, no matter which combination of characters are onscreen.
However, this film would not work at all if not for the talent of Paul Rudd. While the three actresses playing Ned’s sisters are each talented (not to mention, pretty to look at), their respective characters would be somewhat cliched (and somewhat unlikable), save for the presence of oddball Ned, a vibrant character that gives the film the necessary spin to make it fresh and unique. Rudd gets major credit for using his now-established brand of “aw shucks” charisma to balance Ned out as an idiot we can both laugh at and appreciate for his genuine nature. In other hands, the character could easily have been one-note and dismissible, which would’ve totally unraveled this story. Instead, Rudd provides us with the sort of “Forrest Gump” character who is still layered and interesting, despite his dim ways. Set against a cast of cynical/”realistic” characters, Ned becomes a symbol of love and optimism that makes his Jesus-style hairdo and beard all the more fitting.
Thankfully, (former TV) director Jesse Peretz gives his cast room to let their chemistry spark, because truth be told, it’s hard to pinpoint what kind of movie this is. It’s not quite an indie movie, not quite a mainstream comedy or drama – it’s more of a quirky, funny, family drama centered around a charismatic central character. Take that description for what it’s worth, but in my opinion, films that are difficult to label usually offer something unique, and, in this case, enjoyable.
I would recommend Our Idiot Brother to anyone who goes to the movies with no greater expectation than being told a good story with some interesting characters. Those hoping for a more conventional comedic or dramatic experience may not be fully satisfied with the quirky balance the film strikes between the two genres. Then again, who knows? Maybe ol’ Ned’s charms will ultimately win them over, too.
If you’re still making up your mind about seeing the film, check out the red-band trailer below:
Our Idiot Brother is now playing in theaters.