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Our Idiot Brother
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Paul Rudd stars in this witty and highly relatable comedy about that one family member who is always just a little bit behind the curve. For sisters Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), and Liz (Emily Mortimer) that person is their upbeat brother Ned, an organic farmer whose willingness to rely on honesty and trusting of humankind allows for a trouble-free existence. Ned may be utterly lacking in common sense, but he is their brother and after his girlfriend dumps him and boots him off the farm, his sisters once again come to his rescue. As Liz, Emily and Natalie each take a turn at housing Ned, their brother's unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But after seeing life through Ned’s optimistic perspective, his family comes to realize that maybe, Ned isn't such an idiot after all.
Does trusting others, expecting the best from people, and speaking honestly make a person a role model or an idiot? Ned (Paul Rudd) gets into trouble with the law because of his idealistic ways and compassion for others, and things don't get much easier after he's served his time in prison. Released with nowhere to go and denied even the friendship of his own dog, he looks to his family for support. Ned tries living with his mother (Shirley Knight), which just doesn't work out, and then two of his three sisters (Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, and Emily Mortimer), but his presence seems to disrupt relationships no matter where he lands--and his effect on the success of his sisters' businesses isn't any more positive. The funny thing is, Ned's total disruption of his sisters' lives actually provides each sister with something she never realized she was missing. Our Idiot Brother is a light comedy that's full of absurd situations and stereotypical characters. There are plenty of opportunities to chuckle and laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of some of the situations that Ned and his family find themselves in, but the film also suggests that perhaps honesty and believing in others are more important than social niceties. Bonus features include commentary with director Jesse Peretz, deleted and extended scenes, and a 14-minute making-of documentary. --Tami Horiuchi
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Top Customer Reviews
It's hard not to describe this movie in a way that doesn't sound cliche -- it is in a way following a well-trodden path. But cliches be damned, this film is charming, and not for lack of a better description. The movie is charming in all of the best senses of the word. When you think of "charming" in the context of other films, the weakness of description is the fault of those other movies, not this one. The characters are quirky "types" but they effectively convey that there is a little bit of each one in all of us -- the characters don't wind up feeling like stereotypes. Instead, they feel real and totally sympathetic even though the comedy format doesn't attempt (or allow for) any sort of deep character development. You wind up loving them, warts and all, without feeling like you were cheated by cheap tricks and empty shells -- not an easy task in the comedy genre.
The actors are wonderfully cast. Paul Rudd is the "idiot" hippy brother, and he manages to somehow be totally endearing in the role while being (if this is even possible) almost understated in the role. Zooey Deschanel is the new . . . well, Zooey Deschanel (fell in love with her in Elf before I ever knew her name). Charming, beautiful, so authentically quirky, her offbeat comedic talent perfectly complements Rudd's low-key portrayal. Elizabeth Banks is perfect as the climbing fashionista sister. She reminded me of a less attention-demanding version of Parker Posey, with a similarly keen understanding of ironic comedy and timing (which I consider a very high compliment -- I love Parker Posey). Emily Mortimer, the third sister, is overshadowed by her counterparts, but that's by design, and she totally fulfills the role -- there are only so many glory parts in any movie. I don't know if it was intended as a Paul Rudd vehicle, but it comes across much more an an ensemble film, with each actor contributing significantly to its success.
This is not earth-shattering film-making, but it's a light comedy for crissake. It's the kind of movie I can imagine seeing played over and over again on non-premium cable channels . . . and that I would be more than happy to watch again every couple of years when I was in the mood for something that could touch the heart without weighing it down. I think this is an unheralded but possibly lasting gem. Badly marketed (I at least was hesitant to rent it based on the marketing), but brilliantly cast and really well written. Watch the movie -- you won't be disappointed. Unless you are essentially mean spirited and possibly evil.