‘Idiot Brother’: There have been dumber films

PAUL RUDD stars in OUR IDI­OT BROTH­ER Photo by: Nicole Riv­elli ©2011 The Wein­stein Com­pany. All Rights Re­served.

When I saw the pre­views for Our Idi­ot Broth­er, I im­me­di­ately wondered if Paul Rudd was en­vi­ous that his co-star Steve Carell got to be the “schum­ck” in Din­ner for Schmucks while Rudd played it straight. I guess Rudd got the op­por­tun­ity he was wait­ing for as Ned in Our Idi­ot Broth­er.

The idiocy be­gins in the very first scene — selling a bag of marijuana to a uni­formed po­lice of­ficer. What kind of idi­ot would do something so stu­pid? Someone who is a good-natured ideal­ist and wants to see the best in every­one, that’s what kind. 

Ned is not really an idi­ot, or even men­tally han­di­capped as far as I can tell (though the “R” word is thrown around a few times).

Ned’s good nature lands him in jail, but he is re­leased early for good be­ha­vi­or. After the stint in the big house, Ned re­turns back to his or­gan­ic farm and his girl­friend Janet (Kath­ryn Hahn), who he has learned has sur­repti­tiously dumped him, moved a new guy in­to the house and re­fuses to let Ned keep Wil­lie Nel­son, the dog he loves so much.

Ned makes it his mis­sion to get back his im­possibly cute golden re­triev­er from the vin­dict­ive Janet.

The movie, dir­ec­ted by Jesse Peretz, is a little all over the place with Ned’s fam­ily drama, and none of the stor­ies are too cap­tiv­at­ing. 

Ned’s sis­ters, whom I de­cided to name frumpy, fri­gid and flaky be­cause I of­ten couldn’t re­mem­ber their char­ac­ter’s names, make up much of the drama.

The frumpy sis­ter is Liz (Emily Mor­timer), who learns her doc­u­ment­ary-film­maker hus­band (Steve Coogan) may be hav­ing an af­fair. The fri­gid sis­ter is Mir­anda (Eliza­beth Banks), who is will­ing to pur­sue any means ne­ces­sary to bol­ster her ca­reer. Fi­nally, the flaky one is Nat­alie (Katy Perry Zooey Deschanel), who can’t make up her mind on wheth­er she is in­to wo­men or men.

Ned’s in­no­cent quest for truth (some may call it med­dling) in all of their lives causes much drama and a big blowup. The end­ing is a little too con­veni­ently happy for my taste. After such an off­beat be­gin­ning (the cop, the weed), I hoped writers Ev­genia Peretz and Dav­id Schis­gall had a sim­il­arly wacky end­ing in store. 

The movie def­in­itely has a good, likable cast with a lot of re­cog­niz­able faces. There are some fun sup­port­ing roles played by Adam Scott and Rashida Jones (in­ter­est­ingly, both are cur­rently on the TV sit­com Parks and Re­cre­ation). 

No one really stands out ex­cept maybe Jones, who plays against type as the tie-wear­ing les­bi­an lov­er of Deschanel’s char­ac­ter.

Paul Rudd ably car­ries the flick. I wasn’t so much of a fan of his Croc-wear­ing, long-haired hip­pie look, but he brought a cer­tain charm to the role that oth­er act­ors may not have been able to im­it­ate.

I’ve been a fan of Rudd’s since Clue­less, and I’m still wait­ing for him to have that big break­out role. It seems he’s best in an en­semble cast or a sup­port­ing role rather than as the star, so it may nev­er hap­pen.

Over­all, the storyline felt pretty weak. There are many laughs in Our Idi­ot Broth­er, but it’s not the kind of movie I’d shell out top dol­lar to see. It’s more of a rent­al or watch-on-cable type of flick. ••

Movie Grade: B-

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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