Release date: August 26th, 2011
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Written by: Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall, and Jesse Peretz
Directed by: Jesse Peretz
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Rashida Jones, and Steve Coogan
Ned (Paul Rudd) is a hippie farmer who gets busted selling pot to a uniformed police officer. After spending eight months in jail, Ned is released early on good behavior. But upon returning to society, he finds his girlfriend now has a new girlfriend and also refuses to give Ned his dog back. With nowhere to go, Ned returns to his family and begins to inadvertently complicate their lives.
Watching the trailer for Our Idiot Brother, one would expect the film to be another in a very long line of raunchy comedies. However the film is more if an indy dramedy than a straight comedy. Unfortunately the drama isn’t very compelling. In fact, there isn’t any drama through most of the film besides Ned’s dog being kept from him. But even this isn’t too dramatic because Ned has such a care free attitude. You can tell he wants his dog, but he doesn’t seem to broken up by it either. One the “real” drama starts to come into the film, it’s all very predictable and doesn’t go anywhere beyond sitcom levels. The only truly effective dramatic scene is one where Ned actually stands up to his family.
The film is more effective as a comedy, though it doesn’t really excel in this area either. It’s not that a lot of jokes fall flat or anything, it’s that the film doesn’t really try to be a comedy. There were some things that made me laugh, mostly from Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan, but even then, I was never in heaves of laughter either. To the film’s credit though, I can’t think of any jokes that had me rolling my eyes.
The cast was pretty solid. Paul Rudd’s character may be unrealistically naive, but he is a charming guy who you can’t help but like. All of the sisters are convincing in their roles. Elizabeth Banks is selfish and materialistic, Emily Mortimer is shy and submissive, and Zooey Deschanel is the weird hipster. Overall, while everyone is fine in their roles, almost nobody stands out. The only exceptions being Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan.
The storytelling can be awkward and the film doesn’t really excel as either drama or comedy. That said, there is a certain charm to Our Idiot Brother that’s hard to resist. I can’t completely embrace this film, but I can’t really bash it either. Seeing it in the theater isn’t necessary, but as a rental or TV viewing, Our Idiot Brother works fine.
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