OUR IDIOT BROTHERStarring Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Tired of summer comedies that rely solely on flying feces, projectile vomit or other bodily functions? Our Idiot Brother is the quintessential R-rated comedy for the art-house set: smart, emotional and truly funny — with occasional punctuation marks of witty vulgarity.
Ned (Paul Rudd) is a happy-go-hempy organic farmer who’s tricked into selling pot to a uniformed police officer. A few years later, Ned gets out of prison only to discover his dreadlocked girlfriend, Janet (a brilliant supporting turn from Kathryn Hahn), has moved on. So, he wears out his welcome at the homes of his three sisters: hipster Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), aspiring journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and harried stay-at-home mom Liz (Emily Mortimer). Ned’s idealist ways throw his sisters’ secretly messed-up lives into total disarray but, of course, since Ned is more idiot savant than idiot, they eventually realize he’s a help, not a hindrance.
Herein, seemingly, lies Our Idiot Brother’s one drawback: Rudd is so affable and charming as Ned, more often than not the sisters are the ones who actually seem like idiots. But, thanks to the deft skills of scriptwriters Evegenia Peretz (the director’s sister) and David Schisgall, the film becomes a sort of Rorschach test, depending on which character you identify with. That is, of course, if you can stop laughing.
Our Idiot Brother proves edgy comedy gold is possible with nary a staple-gunned scrotum or loose bowel movement. All you need is a great script with fully realized characters and a charming, quirky cast. In other words, Hollywood’s Holy Grail. —Andrea Warner