Movie Review: Our Idiot Brother (2011)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Comedy
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Ned (Paul Rudd) is an organic farmer who gets entrapped by a police officer named Washburn (Bob Stephenson) into selling pot. When he gets out of jail, he finds out that his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has a new boyfriend, and wants to keep their dog named Willie Nelson. Ned moves out of his mother’s house and into his sister Liz’(Emily Mortimer) house.  Liz has a documentarian husband, Dylan (Steve Coogan) and their son, River (Matthew Mindler).  Ned goes along as a gofer on Dylan’s documentary and sees something on the set, and tells his sister, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) in passing.  Ned sees how rigidly Dylan and Liz are raising River, Ned starts teaching River Karate and letting him watch movies like the Pink Panther.  When Ned inadvertently hurts River’s hand, Liz tells Ned to leave.  Ned then becomes a chauffeur to his sister Miranda, who’s doing a big story on Lady Arabella Galloway. (Janet Montgomery)  Lady Arabella actually confides the story of bad breakup to Ned, who again inadvertently tells the story, which Miranda turns into an article.  While Ned is fighting for his dog, with the help of his bi-sexual sister Nat’s (Zooey Deschanel) girlfriend, Cindy , (Rashida Jones) a lawyer, Ned finds out something about Nat that could wreck her relationship with Cindy.  Does the truth come out about Dylan’s documentaries, about Nat’s secret?  What happens with Miranda’s big scoop?

This is a pleasant film about a simple, almost childlike character who breezes through life without a care in the world.  It’s ironic that his sisters who lead such complicated lives, seem to be the ones most affected by the simple truth that guides Ned’s life.  Sure there are hippie, commune overtones to Ned and Jane’s lives, but the overriding quality of Ned’s personality is his love for others, and his joy for his own life.  The acting is great, especially by Rudd, who seems to enjoy his role a great deal.  Also very good is Elizabeth Banks, she’s got her mind set on one goal, and she doesn’t care who she has to step on to get what she needs. Better than Banks is Emily Mortimer, who has given up everything she had, dazzling looks, sophistication to live a domesticated life with a documentary filmmaker.  She is in deep denial, and doesn’t seem to mind as long as no one rocks the boat of her façade of happiness.  The smaller roles are well played too.  TJ Miller is funny as Jane’s new boyfriend, and Sterling Brown is good as Ned’s parole officer, befuddled that Ned is treating him more like a therapist than someone who can put him in jail.  This is just a light, enjoyable film, don’t expect anything too profound, and you won’t be disappointed.

Our Idiot Brother:  Wisdom from an unexpected source.

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