Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Idiot Brother

My very smart husband and I saw Our Idiot Brother this evening. It was a warm, fuzzy film, nothing to write home about—mostly chuckles and smiles and one or two random belly laughs. It wasn’t exactly the kind of movie that lets you suspend your disbelief, but rather invites you to wallow in the completely ridiculous concept.

Paul Rudd plays Ned, a bumbling modern-day hippie who gets himself and just about everyone around him into absurd messes at every opportunity, though it never seems to dawn on him (and perhaps that’s the point) that he is anything but happy and living the life he’s meant to live. His sisters are so busy believing he’s putting them out and that they have to clean up after him, it doesn’t occur to them that they, really, are the ones whose lives are in shambles.

Of course, no film would be complete without a dog named Willie Nelson. As part of the fore-mentioned ridiculous concept, this cute setter is Ned’s highest source of conflict as he attempts over and over to regain custody of the dog after his ex-girlfriend dumps him following his stint in jail for selling pot to a cop. (Perhaps one of the most believable moments—Bob Stephenson as the cop was pretty convincing! I might have sold the pot to him, too, if I were in such a business, which I am not, thank you very much.) Our Idiot Brother is certainly not a breakout film for Rudd, but he pulls off the charming Ned better than most actors might have.

Zoey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer are a couple of my favorite actresses, so I’m usually up for anything they’re in. In an ironic switchback after my last entry (regarding One Day’s Anne Hathaway), Mortimer’s British accent was a little too apparent in this movie in comparison with her past films, such as the delightful Lars and the Real Girl. Though she was fairly convincing as Liz, a tired young mother whose philandering husband (Steve Koogan, as Dylan, one of the real idiots in the movie) forces her to bring their son up in a way that goes completely against the adorable little fellow’s grain, Mortimer’s accent sets her apart from her three siblings in a “one of these things is not like the other” kind of way. Deschanel, as Natalie, delivers her classic awkward/cute/emo shtick, much like she played in Failure to Launch, Elf, and 500 Days of Summer. I’d love to see her in something with a little more depth just to see what she can do. (Am I forgetting anything? Has she already?)

The somewhat-unknown-to-me (even though she has a pretty long resume) Elizabeth Banks might have been my favorite sister in this film, though. Miranda is the one sister who tries to make things happen instead of letting things happen to her, and Banks’s facial expressions as she allows her idiot brother to take over an interview she’s been coveting forever are spot-on hilarious. You feel sorry for her even as you enjoy her brother’s accidental coup. She plays Effie Trinket in the upcoming book-to-film, The Hunger Games, and I can't wait to see her portrayal of this interesting and quirky character.

All in all, Our Idiot Brother isn’t the kind of movie you MUST see before it leaves theaters—you’ll be quite safe waiting for the DVD release, and pretty safe even if you miss it—but if you’re looking for a bit of last minute summer fun, a happy ending, and everything tied up in a bow, and can manage to keep your expectations somewhat low, you might enjoy this pleasant bit of mindless entertainment. It makes a nice movie for a date night, and that’s exactly what it was for me and my hubby.

Our Idiot Brother is appropriately rated R for some nudity, adult situations, and lots of language.

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