Our Idiot Brother

Monday, 31 October, 2011

3 and a half stars

The premise

Our Idiot Brother (trailer), a comedy drama, is the latest feature of Jesse Peretz, a US filmmaker and musician, and is the story of a well intentioned though naive and bumbling market gardener, Ned (Paul Rudd), who has the grating propensity to speak out of turn, often causing inconvenience or embarrassment to those around him.

Following a stint in jail, after selling marijuana to a uniformed police officer, Ned finds his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has moved on, and taken up with the slow-witted though affable Billy (T.J. Miller), leaving Ned homeless, and having to rely on the hospitality of his three reluctant sisters so as to keep roof over his head.

The play

While Ned is disappointed at being turned away by Janet, he is especially distraught when she refuses to hand over his dog, named Willie Nelson, to him, even though it is clear the dog prefers Ned’s company. With no where else to stay he calls upon eldest sister Liz (Emily Mortimer), who is married to a documentary maker, Dylan (Steve Coogan).

Dylan gives Ned work as a production assistant, but after Ned uncovers something Dylan has been keeping from Liz, he is sent packing. He then goes to stay with Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), an ambitious magazine journalist, but Ned embarrasses her in front of a neighbour, Jeremy (Adam Scott), who she has feelings for.

Youngest sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) offers Ned a spot in her garage, sleeping in a rubber dinghy, but he soon causes a rift between commitment shy Natalie and her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), with his ill-timed banter. Ned is subsequently left with no choice but to move back to his mother’s (Shirley Knight) place.

The wrap

Much of the comedy in “Our Idiot Brother” lies in Ned choosing to share what he knows at inopportune moments. While his revelations are unwelcome, they have a way of forcing those he encounters, particularly his sisters – who are in various states of denial in regards to professional or personal matters – to confront their shortcomings.

While well scripted and entertaining, “Our Idiot Brother” is a little thin on the character development of its supporting cast, especially Ned’s sisters, who we don’t get to know all that well. Otherwise Rudd puts in a stand-out performance with his portrayal of the socially immature, Peter Pan like, Ned.

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