To begin, I have to get this off my chest: I love Paul Rudd. I have loved Paul Rudd since Clueless when he somehow looked the same age as he does now. Man never ages! He’s like an adorable sweet puppy, who also happens to be really funny. And it is this “Paul Ruddiness” of the main character Ned that essentially carries Our Idiot Brother, despite a first-rate supporting cast of Emily Mortimer (more please!), Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanal as the sisters to Rudd’s titular idiot brother.
I won’t go too deeply into the plot details (trying to be spoiler free, y’all!), but the film follows Ned’s attempt to start over (and get his dog Willie Nelson back from his spiteful but super-cute in overalls ex-girlfriend) after an unfortunate incarceration due to selling drugs to a cop. In uniform. To be fair, the cop laid out a really sad tale and Ned, prone to constant acts of kindness, was compelled to sell him some weed. Cause that’s just the kind of dude that he is. I will also say that although the sisters act as if Ned is the odd one of the bunch, each one of them has some serious personality quirks and questionable judgement of their own revealed. Obviously, Deschanal’s Natalie is the “quirkiest,” since that seems to be her schtick (see my review of The New Girl), though I found her to be closer to her normal charming self in this film. Bank’s Miranda is a success-oriented journalist, which basically seems to be her entire personality in the film. At least on 30 Rock there’s some funny satire in her similarly high-strung, avarice performance. Also, her wig was distracting. Mortimer’s Liz is a harried mother of two small children and, of the sisters, the most maternal and protective of Ned. Rashida Jones appears in a supporting role as Natalie’s girlfriend, but like many of Jones’ roles, she has more presence than material to work with (see Parks and Recreation). Over the course of the film, Ned somehow mucks up each his sisters’ “perfect” lives by revealing secrets (always without malice and often without intent!) that challenge their perceptions of who they are and how they are living their lives.
Despite the fact that his sisters blame Ned’s idiocy and immaturity for their lives falling apart, the filmmakers make it clear that Ned is actually the sweet (albeit simple) moral compass of this film. And that his sisters just need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that he didn’t cause their problems, even if he is responsible for inadvertently revealing them. Unfortunately, the filmmakers also made Paul Rudd’s adorableness the string that holds the film together, making Our Idiot Brother sweet but not filling. It tried to be an “Apatow-era” screwball comedy but ended up with a rather overly convoluted plot. The scene where Ned’s happy demeanor finally cracks is the only one I’m still thinking about, because it was a finely done family moment. Basically, I enjoyed it, because I enjoy spending time with Rudd. But I’m not sure it’s a film I’ll revisit over and over again to get my Rudd fix.
Instead, I think I’ll just watch this video of him dancing for a few… hours.