The absolutely most enthusiastic thing I can say about Our Idiot Brother is that I didn’t mind sitting through it. Paul Rudd plays Ned, a good-natured specimen of the boobus Americanus in its most aggressive form. Ned is such a sweetheart of a sap that the film opens with a uniformed cop (Bob Stephenson) getting Ned to give him some pot, insisting on paying him for it, and then promptly arresting him. It isn’t just that the cop has entrapped Ned, it’s that he’s deliberately played on Ned’s good-natured sympathies in order to do so. This is symptomatic of how the film peddles its banana oil premise; it’s less that Ned is such a nice guy than that almost everybody else in the movie is pretty vile. Our Idiot Brother then proceeds to lumber through its mix-and-match plot that not only borrows from everything from Harvey (where crazy people are better than sane ones) to Forrest Gump (where the terminally dim are the saviours of the world), but plays out like a Woody Allen picture with a lobotomy. Ned’s three sisters are like the Wal-Mart knock-offs of Hannah and Her Sisters, while sister Liz (Emily Mortimer) is married to a self-absorbed documentary filmmaker (played with zero laughs by Steve Coogan) who feels like an unlikable combination of the Woody Allen and Alan Alda characters in Crimes and Misdemeanors. Once Ned gets out of jail, he finds that his nasty hippie farmer girlfriend (an abrasive Kathryn Hahn) has both dumped him in favor of an even bigger stoner (T.J. Miller) and refuses to let Ned have his dog Willie Nelson. So Ned goes home to his genially dipsomaniac mom (Shirley Knight) and then proceeds to wander through the lives of his dysfunctional and unlikable sisters, causing havoc at every turn. The idea is that both hilarity and life lessons will ensue. Not really.
Director: Jesse Peretz
Writer: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall
Producer: Anthony Bregman, Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub
Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Rashida Jones, Kathryn Hahn, Shirley Knight and TJ Miller