Our Idiot Brother Directed by: Jesse Peretz Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 26, 2011
PLOT: Ned (Rudd) gets in trouble with the law and now he needs to rely on his three sisters for support.
WHO'S IT FOR? The Portland hipster has found a new hero in Ned. It's a simple drama/comedy about dysfunctional families.
EXPECTATIONS: Paul Rudd, a great cast playing the sisters ... why wouldn't it be good?
ACTORS: Paul Rudd as Ned: Dude. Man. Rudd finds that line between being funny but never being the joke. He is easily the highlight of this film (compared to the subject, the other actors, the setting and the dialogue). Ned sells weed to a cop, hands a pile of cash to a random guy and you can't help but want to hang out with the man. You want the world around him to embrace Ned. Score: 8
Elizabeth Banks as Miranda: Miranda is a reporter who needs a big break. You'll never guess who has to drive her to this big break ... Ned! Oh wait, that's really obvious. It's an easy set-up and I was never interested in this part of Miranda's story. Her other thing, with the neighbor/friend (Adam Scott) is more intriguing. What's odd here is Banks looks totally different without her almost iconic blonde hair, which probably isn't her true color. Score: 5
Zooey Deschanel as Natalie: Deschanel plays Natalie a little flat which is supposed to be part of the charm. She's a stand-up comedian who shouldn't be. I didn't find the charm or usual spark that Deschanel brings to the big screen. Natalie finds love with all kinds (men, women, short, old, etc) and that gets her in trouble with girlfriend (Rashida Jones). Score: 4
Emily Mortimer as Liz: We get to watch Liz's marriage fall apart with Dylan (Steve Coogan). Yeah! Oh wait, this is more pain, especially the way they show it, which is a lack of communication. Watching Liz see her son come alive while playing with Ned is great, but considering she's a full-time parent, it's not believable she has no clue her son was becoming obsessed with fighting. Score: 5
Rest of Cast: I needed more Adam Scott. A lot more Scott! He plays Jeremy, who is willing to try and relate to Ned and see what he's all about. Rashida Jones goes for it as Cindy, a strong, loving, lesbian. Shirley Knight plays Ned's mom and all but disappears for long stretches for no real reason. Coogan can normally shine as a bit player, but isn't given much to work with except for one scene where he stands naked holding his junk. Score: 6
TALKING: The dog's name is Willie Nelson. Willie Nelson's name is mentioned in full, every time they are referring to the dog. You hear Willie Nelson's name a lot, or at least it feels that way. Naming his dog Willie Nelson is Ned's most annoying characteristic. For Rudd, it's mainly the delivery and not the dialogue itself that shines. Jones and Rudd do have a playful "Who's the man?" back and forth that works well. Score: 6
SIGHTS: The New York farm looks good. Upper East Side looks like it should, with some people actually living eight people in a place. Rudd's beard is the only iconic look of the film. Score: 6
SOUNDS: There are plenty of Willie Nelson songs. "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree," and "I'm Taking You With Me" fill up what feels like a nice, but very forgettable soundtrack. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: Rudd and Scott hang out at a cafe and talk about Ned's failed threesome. Jeremy just allows Ned to exist because he's not related. The film could have used more balance with Jeremy and also Cindy.
ENDING: You'll never guess who ends up teaching whom in this film ... oh wait, yeah you all can guess that. That's way too easy to figure out.
QUESTIONS: So, we should always be honest and open? Right on, man, I can dig it.
REWATCHABILITY: Nah, that's OK man. I'm cool. Can you tell I'm channeling Ned here?
Ned is like New York City's Forrest Gump. But that's not entirely true. Then it seems he's like a simple Caine from "Kung Fu." Then I realized who he really is ... Ned is Pooh. Ned is Winnie the Pooh.
Now, I love me some Pooh, so by default Rudd's Ned gets a pretty long leash. He's fun to hang out with, especially when you don't feel responsible for him. That's where the problems come in to play with Our Idiot Brother. Ned's sisters all feel responsible, and yet they have plenty of dysfunction of their own. You'd never want to hang out with one of them. In fact, they complain and whine on the couch so much at one time you can totally tell it's blowing Ned's natural high.
The movie is painfully clear ... "We're not the ones been teaching Radio. He's the one been teaching us." Yeah, that's right. I just quoted Radio. See what Our Idiot Brother made me do?
Living in Portland, I realize there are many who will just see Ned as one of their own. And listen, I can chillax and enjoy the moment just as much as the next guy. Unfortunately, Our Idiot Brother doesn't let me sit and enjoy the high of Paul Rudd for long enough without those sisters nagging in my ear.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10