The Gustavian Weekly

Santa Claus is coming… Our Idiot Brother is coming to town | The Gustavian Weekly

By Riley Lass Staff Writer | December 9, 2011 | Variety

We live in a new age of movies, friends. Now more than ever movies are churned from the depths of Hollywood solely for the sake of turning a profit. Where’s the heart? More and more of these movies seem almost cookie-cutter, and it’s up to the actors and story to pick up the slack. The same goes for Our Idiot Brother, where predictable plot meets the conception of the film itself: a wacky character.

Ned (Paul Rudd) is an organic farmer who falls on hard times after being thrown in jail and can’t seem to catch a break. As he tries to scrounge money by working odd jobs, he must live with his sisters: stifled housewife Liz (Emily Mortimer), uptight workaholic Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and awkward lesbian Natalie (Zooey Deschanel). While each of them struggles with their own lives, Ned tries to simply do good as his grassroots upbringing has always steered him. You can expect things to go awry as city punctuality meets Ned’s ineptitude and everything is thrown into a spiral. But good old Ned still comes through to save the day in an ending that was surprisingly fresh among too many other feel-goods administered to the masses.

Let it be clear that Paul Rudd has found his center with his role. Just as is his typecast, Rudd slips into Ned’s mannerisms like a well fitting Snuggie. His nonchalant, hippy, smooth-ride attitude brings a grin every time. Each scene he appears in allows him to improvise his way to more laughs. Though sometimes predictable, you can’t help but stay on his side as he tacks ‘man’ onto every sentence and makes life difficult in the most pleasant ways.

I wish I could say the same about the supporting actresses, but I just can’t. The three aren’t so much characters as they are quirks placed inside the movie so Ned can interact with them. Liz is hysterical in (if my math is right) 110 percent of her scenes because she’s been given the coddling mother personality but no room to develop. Elizabeth Banks delivers an above average performance as she keeps scenes interesting but not over-the-top. And Zooey Deschanel is given another trademark ungodly awkward role where she does to comedic timing and dynamism what Gallaghar does to a watermelon. The only thing that really makes these three sisters is they have the same hair. Cohesiveness of cast does not resonate with Rudd’s winning performance.

There was a lot going for this movie with Rudd, but the lack of attention to story and supporting actors leaves me a little jaded. I give it two and a half estranged siblings out of five.