In Our Idiot Brother, Paul Rudd plays Ned, who is just that: an idiot. After going to jail for dealing marijuana to a uniformed cop, he is dumped by his girlfriend and has to figure out his life. The movie follows Ned as he crashes through each of his sisters’ lives like a hurricane, leaving collateral damage every stop along the way.
The big frustration with Our Idiot Brother is how it never meets its serious potential. Its indie cred is unmatched: in addition to showing at Sundance, it also features alt-goddess Zooey Deschanel (if you have not seen the YouTube spoof series The Zooey Deschanel Show then you should go pray I don’t find you!), Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, and Rashida Jones. Second, it fills the light indie end-of-summer comedy void (see: 500 Days of Summer). Third, the marketing has been intelligent and impeccable (see: the Funny or Die sketch). Fourth, is there a woman or gay the world over who doesn’t want to simultaneously snuggle Paul Rudd and tie him up? I know it’s not just me!
Unfortunately, the movie never delivers on its initial promise. Sure, it packs a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, but it never lifts off — even if it wraps up on a very sweet note, leaving me feeling warm but ultimately unfulfilled. The quips come fast and clever, but they’re always easy jabs at the kind of fashionable, over-educated city-dwellers who name their kids “River” and “Echo” and perform bad stand-up comedy in Marc by Marc Jacobs frocks — like a Stuff White People Like blurb set to film. Worst of all, Elizabeth Banks sports the most heinous weave – I just wanted someone to snatch it the whole time. I attribute the underwhelming effect to the fact that neither the director nor the writers have much experience. The last “film” directed by Jesse Peretz was The Ex in 2006 starring Jason Biggs, Amanda Peet and … yeah, you get it. The last thing written by David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz was … nothing. The cast is wasted and dragged through a slow, could-have-been-better failure to launch. More aptly put, we had the nicest butter and Paula Deen was not there to deep fry it.
If I saw you outside the theater, to quote my good (I wish) friend (she’s not real) Brenda Meeks (from Scary Movie), I would tell you, “Don’t go in there!” But if you insist on going in, adjust your expectations: Our Idiot Brother is a little too self-satisfied and poorly constructed for its own good.