Now Showing on Cable: “Our Idiot Brother”

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.

B-

17 thoughts on “Now Showing on Cable: “Our Idiot Brother”

  1. I’m presently watching this one on my DVR. I have been watching it in bits only because of lack of time. But I can tell you that so far I’m enjoying it. Can be slow at times but for the most part pretty funny. Have about 20 minutes left. Plan on finishing it tonight. So far your B- is fare for a grade.

    • And pretty much the last 20 minutes or so wraps it all up in the same kind of tone. Not trying to be too dramatic or too funny, just a little of both. It was ok. I think Paul Rudd is the big reason its any good. He’s a funny guy.

    • I dont recall the trailer…. bad huh? I know I wasn’t enthusiastic about seeing it in the theatre (I didn’t for some reason, even though I was blogging then), so maybe I thought the trailer sucked too, and now I just dont remember. LOL

      “Simple and easy” is right. I do like the fact that this movie doesnt try too hard to be something it’s not… I can see the other side of it too, if anyone wanted to call it out for a lack of ambition, but I definitely enjoyed it for what it was.

  2. I would say that Ned is the family scapegoat. Since he is clearly a ‘screw-up’ to them all, they can safely blame him for things. In all the instances, these were situations that would have probably blown up in each sister’s face. Ned just brought it to the front sooner rather than later.

    He has been described as a catalyst for change in their lives. But I think it is more that he creates a mirror for them to see themselves. Not even the ‘them’ that Ned sees. As he clearly really loves his sisters. Because of his rather amazing innocence and his childlike trust and childlike blurting out of the truth, when they look at themselves through him, they are forced to see the unhappiness and questionable choices they have been making.

    Not only is it just their actions that he calls into question, but their values, their ethics, their choices, who they are, who they think they are, and what they want and think they want out of life. And he does it by not really doing anything but by simply ‘being’.

    It isn’t what he accidently says that ends up breaking them down so they can rebuild themselves. They were already set on a self-destructive course. They were like a train set on a track and the bridge was out. Ned is more like the engineer who throws the switch to change the tracks and save the train.

    It calls into question the audiences own sense of values. Ned looks like a screw up and has had some issues in live but the three that seem ‘normal’ are the ones really screwing up their lives. It challenges the viewers to rethink what is ‘normal’ and what being a ‘screw-up’ really means and maybe it’s our perceptions and values that are the problem.

    • You’re definitely right about all of that… It’s a solid analysis of how the dynamics transpired. One day sooner or later, each of the sisters would have had their moment of reckoning, with or without him. And you’re right, too, he definitely loves his family. I love the scene where he blows up over the game of charades. :D

      The only thing I would say is that I didnt get into the movie enough for Ned’s character to cause me to cause my life into question. Other “blank slate” characters have in the past, a little… Chance, Gump, who I mentioned above… but not here. I just was pleasanlty amused throughout.

      I liked the serendipitous ending, with the dogs and the names and everything. :D I thought that was a cute touch.

  3. Clearly, I liked the movie a lot. People have been critical of me only liking action films. I like many types of movies. I like a lot of indy and art films. Just never the ones they want me to watch. And bringing over that Cars movie from Disney because I like anime doesn’t work. Anime may be animated but all animated movies are not Anime.

  4. Ehh, could have been a lot funnier but instead, just got bogged down by a bunch of stupid, family drama that didn’t matter since the family that they wanted us to care for were a bunch of pieces of crap. Rudd was awesome though and is probably the main reason to see it by what he can do with his fun-loving persona. Good review Fogs.

    • Thanks Dan. Yeah, it isn’t going to make anyone’s top ten I dont imagine. But I found it entertaining enough.

      His family did have issues, didnt they? LOL.

      Definitely the credit here for the movie being as good as it is belongs to Rudd. No doubt about it.

    • Glad that came across as my take on it, cause that’s exactly how I feel about this one. “Light and breezy”.

      A good flick if you dont put any expectations on it, and just want to chill out for an hour or two.

  5. Huh, may give this one a shot. I was looking for good comedy and the cast looks really interesting. Banks should really replace Aniston in all of modern comedies, so much better looking and wild :)

    • Agreed on Elizabeth Banks’ superiority over Jennifer Aniston. Is there a petition we could start or something? LOL :D

      I dont know if I’d call this a “GOOD” comedy though, I mean… it was decent and all, but, I dont think its much more than a fun enough flick to kill a couple hours with. Mildly enjoyable. :D Is that good enough as a “lukewarm recomendation”?

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