OUR IDIOT BROTHER
(director: Jesse Peretz; screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz/David Schisgall; cinematographer: Yaron Orbach; editors: Andy Mondshein/Jacob Claycroft; music: Eric D. Johnson; cast: Paul Rudd (Ned Rochlin), Elizabeth Banks (Miranda), Zooey Deschanel (Natalie), Emily Mortimer (Liz), Steve Coogan (Dylan), Hugh Dancy (Christian, painter), Kathryn Hahn (Janet), Rashida Jones (Cindy), T.J. Miller (Billy), Adam Scott (Jeremy), Sterling Brown (Omar), Matthew Mindler(River), Lydia Haug(Tatiana), Shirley Knight (Mom), Janet Montgomery (Lady Arabella Galloway); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Anthony Bregman/Peter Saraf/Marc Turtletaub; The Weinstein Company; 2011)“A genial sitcom-lite comedy that stumbles when it tries to make the clueless idiot brother into a wise man bringing life lessons and salvation to a dysfunctional family.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A genial sitcom-lite comedy that stumbles when it tries to make the clueless idiot brother into a wise man bringing life lessons and salvation to a dysfunctional family. It has a storyline which is laughable, but mostly not in a funny way. Directed by Jesse Peretz (“The Ex”/”The Chateau”) from a story he co-wrote with his sister Evgenia Peretz. Evgenia’s documentary-filmmaker husband David Schisgall also contributed to the script. It features Paul Rudd (the pic was written for him) as the likeable Forrest Gump-like character, who gets things botched despite his good intentions. The one-joke comedy builds to nowhere, there’s no dramatic tension, everyone seemed programmed to be a dramatic device, and the jokes weren’t that great — it largely disappoints. It’s a pic that someone like Woody Allen could do in his sleep and make it funnier and wittier, and with less effort.
The idiot brother isNed Rochlin (Paul Rudd). A fortysomething irresponsible man-child, who is sweet, guileless, trusts everyone because he has a pure heart and doesn’t know when to shut his trap as he always says what he means. While selling home-grown farm veggies at a Long Island farmer’s market he’s tricked into selling weed to a uniformed cop and is imprisoned. After a few months prison time the selfless Ned is released, and when he returns to his hippie biodynamicfarmer girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) the hateful peacenik has a new boyfriend named Billy (T.J. Miller) and tosses him off her property but doesn’t return the Golden Retriever named Willie Nelson he loves more than anything else in the world and believes should be his even though it was left to Janet by a friend. The homeless Ned rejects living at home with his accepting but dull mom (Shirley Knight), and ventures to the Big Apple to live with his three sisters. He moves in with the married mousy Liz (Emily Mortimer) and mentors her overprotected seven-year-old son River (Matthew Mindler), and helps her pompous douchebag documentary-filmmaker husband Dylan (Steve Coogan) at work by running errands. When things go bust there, Ned is shuffled off to the luxury West Village flat of his beautiful but unscrupulous single sister, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), a cold-hearted aspiring reporter for Vanity Fair. When the naive Ned messes with her ambitions to get ahead career-wise, he’s shuffled off to the Brooklyn Park Slope loft of his hipster promiscuous bi-sexual youngest sister, the aspiring stand-up comedian, Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), who is living with her masculine lawyer girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones). Again talking too much without thinking, the innocent Ned becomes too much for sis and is given the boot. Out on his own, after leaving his three neurotic unhappy sisters, Ned tells them “My work here is done!” and soon after the holy fool finds bliss on his own.
All the main characters are shallow and the pic relies wholly on Rudd to charm his way through such fluff. But his back is not strong enough to carry such a trifle, as the pic never amounts to much except as a feeble comedy you’ll see for many years on late night cable TV.
REVIEWED ON 8/27/2011 GRADE: C+