Showing for the first time on Showtime this past weekend was “Our Idiot Brother”, last year’s Paul Rudd dramedy vehicle.
“Our Idiot Brother” is about a burn-out who gets re-interjected into his sisters’ lives after serving a stint in jail for selling marijuana to a cop. Not a plain clothes, undercover cop… a cop in full out uniform. Rudd’s Ned is a fried space cadet who completely lacks motivation, but has an abundance of good nature and a simple outlook on life. He’s also a bit of a blabbermouth, he can’t seem to keep anything in confidence.
His presence in their lives, predictably, winds up being a change agent for each of them.
Ned (Paul Rudd) is an organic farmer who lives with his girlfriend on her farm. When a cop “tricks” him into selling a bag of weed, he winds up doing a stint in jail. When he gets out, he finds out his girlfriend has moved on with a new man, and he’s no longer welcome to stay with her. She won’t even let him take his dog.
He’s forced to impose on his three sisters for a place to stay. Of course, this is incredibly inconvenient, and one by one, he finds a way to disrupt their existences. He upsets the way his first sister, Liz (Emily Mortimer), and her husband (Steve Coogan) are trying to raise their son and their marriage itself. Once they ask him to move out, he finds a way to interfere with his sister Miranda’s (Elizabeth Banks) job by getting between her and a woman she’s trying to interview. Finally, he exposes his sister Natalie’s (Zooey Deschanel) infidelity to her same-sex partner (Rashida Jones).
Along the way, he pines repeatedly for his dog, making several unsuccessful attempts to reunite with it.
Of course, he does it all sweetly and absentmindedly. Ned is a blank-slate character, along the lines of Peter Seller’s Chance in “Being There” or Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump. Without intending to, his stoner naïveté messes up situation after situation, yet it always winds up ultimately being for the best. There’s some mild humor now and then, and some mild sentimentality, but for the most part, “Our Idiot Brother” is a low key movie which, like its central character, doesn’t try too hard. The plot is basic and predictable, and the characters aren’t exactly Shakespearian or anything, but it doesn’t botch anything along the way and the affability of Paul Rudd turns it into a modestly enjoyable film.
It’s harmless, mildly funny, and sweet without being sickeningly saccharin.