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STUDIO: The Weinstein Company
Running Time: 90 minutes
- Feature commentary with Jesse Peretz
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Making of
The world laughs as a goodhearted organic farmer greets his family with kindness and honesty. What a maroon!
Paul Rudd stars as the titular idiot, whose hopes and desires are frequently belittled by his three self absorbed sisters: the promiscuous bohemian (Zooey Deschanel, of course), the condescending housewife (a passive aggressive Emily Mortimer), and the bossy career woman (Elizabeth Banks, reprising her role from 30 Rock).
Paul Rudd manages to charm the ugly, Incan board shorts out of everyone in this light and heartwarming comedy. Neither slight nor mean spirited, Our Idiot Brother excels at making Rudd’s character Ned an endearing slacker worthy of our 90-minutes, even if his onscreen sisters seem intent on proving that he isn’t as cool as we think he is.
In the past few years, the career of Paul Rudd has seen some interesting turns. Moving from the back of the crowd of David Wain’s State reunions and one hell of mustache in Anchorman, the former Tommy Doyle made a shocking jump to the front row with leading roles in the gut busting I Love You, Man and the gut wrenching How Do You Know? Yet, for all his everyman, day late and dollar short charms, it wasn’t until Our Idiot Brother that he’s allowed to take on something new, learning, as James Franco did, that playing a irresponsible, dimwitted stoner is the way into the audience’s hearts. Funny how that works, but Our Idiot Brother isn’t as stupid as its main character.
Director Jesse Peretz takes an interesting route with Our Idiot Brother. Refusing to shoot the lead stoner under a judgmental light, Peretz steers clear of cynicism at almost every turn, and, as a result, directs a comedy that seems more akin to the work of the always looking for the best in people Frank Capra than, say, the cult-breeding weirdness of Jody Hill. Unlike Hill, who seems to thrive with underdogs that see themselves as such and desperately climb to the top of their respective trash heap, Peretz frees Rudd of any self awareness. In turn, Ned becomes the underdog who doesn’t know he’s an underdog.
Things never looked to great for Ned. From the first frames of the film, Rudd explores just how idiotic this brother is when he sells weed to a uniformed police officer, because he thinks the cop is having a bad day. After an eight-month bid, Ned returns home to find his sisters engrossed in their personal lives. The oldest, Liz (Mortimer), is locked into a loveless marriage with a documentary filmmaker with an inflated sense of self worth (the continuously underrated Steve Coogan); The middle child, Miranda (Banks), on the other hand, has no time for love; she’s a hotshot fashion journalist, following her first big story; and the youngest, Natalie (Deschanel), just sleeps with everyone–it’s never clear as to what she does. An artist or something. Anyway, the point is, they don’t have time for Ned’s antics, because he’s family oriented and optimistic, and their miserable and successful.
Our Idiot Brother never goes too far with the sisters, their relationships, or problems, because they aren’t Ned, the film’s focus. Ned steals every scene he’s in, drawing characters to him with his optimistic perspective, disarming honesty, and warm naiveté. As he puts it, when you look for the best in people, they’ll often surprise you. Unfortunately for Ned, it takes about 75 minutes before this actually happens. The film spends most of its time showing Ned how wrong he is. Lovers cheat, ex-lovers plot, and, worst of all, he’s not allowed to see his best friend in the world: dog, Willy Nelson.
Peretz keeps the plotting relatively light, allowing Rudd room to grow, and, boy, does he ever. Rudd makes good use of the space given to him, imbuing Ned with a relaxed stupidity. He’s never concerned about being wrong, because being right means even less. Ned is so hopelessly selfless that he’d rather assume Liz’s womanizing husband is merely taking artistic risks by shooting in the nude, not sleeping with the lead in his film. The character isn’t necessarily the idiot the title stamps on his forehead, but he is incredibly naive. Still, it’s endearing enough to make our time with him enjoyable.
Our Idiot Brother succeeds in keeping things brief and unthreatening. It’s a welcoming comedy that provides enough laughs to make it an easy watch. Rudd and co. seem to be having a good enough time with the material to make even the sappiest moments and weaker jokes simply to ignore. Things this ridiculously optimistic don’t necessarily speak the dark realism everyone seems to crave lately, but surprisingly, sometimes it’s more fun to not assume the worst and just enjoy the people your with.
In high definition, the brightly colored cinematography looks fantastic, giving the film’s look the vibrant feel the plot warrants. As for extras, Our Idiot Brother comes complete with everything you’d expect from a movie like this: namely the bare essentials. A commentary with the stars and filmmakers should make for good fodder, if you’re interested in hearing how charismatic and charming Paul Rudd is. If simply listening to his antics aren’t enough, the blu-ray comes complete with some deleted and extended scenes, as well as a featurette, in which Rudd tells the long lost factoid that Peretz was a founding of the Lemonheads, meaning the director played on Hate Your Friends, a piece of trivia that’s cooler than most of the movie. Also included are some subtitles and alternate languages for the multi-lingual and literate. Neither of which Ned would probably be able to enjoy.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars