Our Idiot Brother – Review



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He’s not such an idiot after all

Everyone has THAT family member, the one who only gets invited to events because well, because they’re family. Chances are however that your embarrassing family member is not as great as Ned. Yes Ned (Paul Rudd) is the idiot that the title refers to, but he’s an idiot with purpose.

When first we’re introduced to Ned, he’s selling produce at a Farmer’s Market from his organic farm and he’s arrested for selling weed to a uniformed police officer who made a very convincing case about having a bad week. When Ned is released from prison on good behavior, he returns to the farm but is dumped by his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn). To even further add to that heartbreak, she insists on keeping their dog Willie Nelson, Ned’s best friend in the world.

Without a home and without his best friend but with his hope intact, Ned retreats to his mother and his three sisters: career focused journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), flighty stand-up comedian bisexual hipster Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), and frumpy housewife Liz (Emily Mortimer). Ned stays with each one of his family members for a short time, but they end up kicking him out for ruining their lives one by one. Ned is so charming and just so goshdarned trustworthy that people tell him things. He learns truths about each one of his sisters that would rock their worlds, and then haplessly spills the beans.

A movie about such a genuinely happy guy deserves a genuinely happy ending though. Just when he’s turned his sister’s lives upside down and his family is in turmoil, Ned is sent back to prison for being honest with his parole officer. His sisters realize that his honesty was for the best and their lives will be better for what he’s done, and they redeem themselves with him. It’s a bit of a clichéd happy ending, but it’s exactly what Ned deserves after being so relentlessly kind-hearted.

Looking and acting like a long lost relative of The Dude from The Big Lebowski, Paul Rudd carries this film with the same reliable charm that we’ve all come to love from him. He owns this character from start to finish with his boyish grin and his naiveté. The supporting cast is pretty outstanding as well. Steve Coogan plays Liz’s documentary director husband, and Rashida Jones plays Zooey Deschanel’s nerdy girlfriend. Yes the two of them have a brief make-out scene, and my entire screening audience was shrieking with excitement; men and women.

Our Idiot Brother is a bit uneven at times though; some of the storylines with the sisters go on a little too long, and there are even several other subplots that take place. Overall though, the film is very charming and witty with several laugh out loud moments. The script was written by Evgenia Peretz and is loosely autobiographical about her relationship with her brother Jesse, who directed the film. Although what the script lacks in cohesiveness, the cast more than compensates.

Even though his sisters get irritated with him in the movie, the world needs more people like Ned. His philosophy is that if you see the best in people, see their best intentions, that the best in them will come out and the world will be better. Our Idiot Brother is a very heartfelt, satisfying comedy; much deeper than it appears on the surface. Maybe Ned isn’t such an idiot after all.


Director: Jesse Peretz
Notable Cast: Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks
Writer(s): Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall

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