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Our Idiot Brother – review

Our Idiot Brother

The thing with Ned (Paul Rudd) isn’t so much that he’s an idiot, as it is that he’s a free spirit.  He lives his life in a way that would drive most people insane.  Ned sees the good in people.  He has a positive outlook on life, and believes if you are open and honest with people then eventually everything will work out for you, and life will give back what you put in to it.  He lives a bohemian, laid back lifestyle in which he sells fruits and vegetables from his organic garden at the local market, hangs with his dog Willie Nelson, and unfortunately gets pinched for selling pot to a uniformed police officer sending him to jail for 8 months.

Upon Ned’s release from jail he finds that his hippy girlfriend has found a new boyfriend, who is living with her, and refuses to give him back his dog, the only thing he truly loves unconditionally in the world.  He has no choice but to turn to his family members for help.  His three sisters Miranda, Natalie, and Liz live very different lives, but they love Ned all the same in their own way, and try to help him out as best they can.  Unfortunately Ned’s lifestyle and freewill nature get in the way, throwing a wrench in each of his sisters lives.

Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a career driven writer who is looking for her first big interview and story.  She is the complete opposite of Ned, and while she loves him dearly, she soon finds a way to use him for her benefit when he befriends the subject of her interview.  He has all the dirt on her, and unwittingly begins to cough it up.

Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) tries her talents at a comedy open mic night every few weeks, and is in a lesbian relationship with Cindy (Rashida Jones) a high powered attorney.  They live hipster lives with all their interesting artsy friends, but their relationship gets confused as Natalie begins to toy with the fact that maybe she’s more bisexual then lesbian.  Ned finds a way to muck that one up too.

Lastly, Liz (Emily Mortimer) is a stay at home mom married to a documentary filmmaker.  She believes that everything is peachy and keen and perfect with her life, but isn’t willing to open her eyes to the truth that is going on around her.

All four siblings are completely different, but they grew up under the watchful eye of their mother in the same house, so there is something that binds them together.  The film is about that glue, and as sticky as it gets sometimes, they are willing to help each other out when the going gets tough, because that’s what family does.

Rudd is one of the few actors that I could watch on screen eating paint chips for 90 minutes and still somehow find entertaining.  His portrayal of Ned is innocent, sweet and good natured, and from the opening scene you are pulling for him to figure it all out.  He’s just too much of a nice guy, and the dynamic with him and his sisters is funny and aggravating, and highly entertaining throughout the whole film.  The film fails to be as tight as character dramas like Please Give and The Kids Are All Right, two of last years best films, but follows closely in their footsteps in trying to understand the dynamic between siblings in a very diverse family.  I was highly entertained and even touched at some points of the film.  You may not rush out to catch this one in the theater, but it is a must rent.

Grade: B+