Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother

2011, R, 95 min. Directed by Jesse Peretz. Starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Shirley Knight, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, T.J. Miller.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 2, 2011

Paul Rudd’s natural performance is the main attraction in this amiable but fluffy family comedy. He plays Ned, a sweet and well-meaning soul who sells some pot to a uniformed officer who asks him nicely. Following Ned’s release from jail, his girlfriend (Hahm) kicks him out and refuses to give him back his dog (named Willie Nelson). So he couch-surfs through the homes of his mother (Knight) and three sisters (Banks, Deschanel, and Mortimer), creating lovable chaos wherever he goes. The character is so preternaturally good-hearted that it’s possible to wonder whether Ned is dim-witted (or an idiot, to use the vernacular of the title). Yet Our Idiot Brother gently walks that line without ever crossing over into mean-spiritedness. Whether these generous family ties resemble anything approaching real life is debatable, but Ned’s situation and the frustrations it causes make for some entertaining moments.

Director Jesse Peretz reteams with Rudd (The Château, 2001) for this comedy and directs from a script co-written by his own sister, Evgenia Peretz (with David Schisgall). Since the film wastes no time on psychological scrutiny, we’ll follow course and not delve into the filmmakers' brother/sister relationship. Our Idiot Brother is ultimately a shambling tale told with genial grace but little substance. It provides a pleasant buzz while it unfolds but vanishes quickly in a puff of smoke.

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Our Idiot Brother, Jesse Peretz, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Shirley Knight, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, T.J. Miller

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