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Movie Review: Our Idiot Brother

August 26, 2011

Our Idiot Brother – An Alliance Films’ Release

Release Date: August 26th, 2011

Rated 14A for coarse language, sexual content, nudity and drug content

Running time: 90 minutes

Jesse Peretz (dir.)

David Schisgall (writer)

Evgenia Peretz (writer)

Eric D. Johnson (music)

Nathan Larson (music)

Paul Rudd as Ned

Emily Mortimer as Liz

Elizabeth Banks as Miranda

Zooey Deschanel as Natalie

Rashida Jones as Cindy

Steve Coogan as Dylan

Kathryn Hahn as Janet

T.J. Miller as Billy

Shirley Knight as Ilene

Matthew Mindler as River

©Alliance Films.  All Rights Reserved.

The genuinely well meaning Ned (Paul Rudd) in Our Idiot Brother.

Our reviews below:


Our Idiot Brother Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The first thing I would like to note about Our Idiot Brother is that its lovable protagonist and title sibling, Ned (Paul Rudd) is no idiot.  Sure he sells pot to a uniformed police officer, wears shorts and an old t-shirt pretty much everywhere, all the while naturally assuming that there must be a better sense of communication amongst his three sisters.  But everything he does is done with the best of intentions.  Ned means no harm by anybody, genuinely seeing the best in every other person.  Ultimately, it’s this positive outlook on life that makes Our Idiot Brother the best comedy of the summer.

The film opens with Ned being entrapped by a cop as he innocently tries to give him some of his organic produce.  After a stint in jail, he goes back to the farm only to discover that his pacifist girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has taken up with the endearingly dumb Billy (T.J. Miller).  She won’t even let him have visitation privileges with his beloved dog, Willie Nelson.  So Ned goes to stay with his overprotective sister, Liz (Emily Mortimer).  Her husband Dylan (Steve Coogan) is a pretentious documentary filmmaker, but their son River (Matthew Mindler) finds himself having a great time with his uncle Ned.  Too bad that his parents make him take dance lessons and don’t approve of impromptu martial arts.

So the innocent Ned goes to stay with the uptight Miranda (Elizabeth Banks).  She’s a struggling writer for Vanity Fair and all she cares about is not letting her brother get in the way of her career.  At least Ned can still find a friend in his sexually experimental sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel).  Still, he struggles to withhold information from her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones) and threatens to inadvertently unravel their relationship.  The thing is, Ned never means to hurt anyone.  It’s just that he openly shares a few too many of the details privately confided in him by his sisters.  On the flipside, perhaps their lives would have been worse off had their brother not shaken things up and forced them all to stop living a lie.

The entire cast here is excellent.  Emily Mortimer brings an emotional neediness to her role, Elizabeth Banks plays a character who tries a little too hard to be uptight, and Zooey Deschanel is an appealing actress no matter what.  But Paul Rudd is front and centre.  With supporting work in numerous comedies and even a few starring roles, Rudd has quickly emerged as one of my favourite modern comic actors.  His genuine likability and sincerity shines through in every scene, but here he also has a chance to show a slightly more vulnerable side.  At a certain point, he knows they see him as an idiot.  But it’s something to be said about the performance that the audience always sides with the character.

The script by David Schisgall & Evgenia Peretz is thankfully a lot smarter than the title might suggest, with director Jesse Peretz nicely handling the entire ensemble cast. The film is also a lot cruder then what we have been led to believe from the trailers.  All of these things work perfectly in unison to deliver a lot of big laughs, but there is also a heart of gold beneath all of the crazy family dynamics.  Our Idiot Brother is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen amongst this year’s many comedies, and it also deserves an honourable mention as one of the best movies of the summer.  This is a comedy that delivers a lot of big laughs while at the same time allowing us to view the world with positives eyes, and there’s nothing idiotic about that.


Our Idiot Brother Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Paul Rudd plays the title character Ned, who after selling ‘grass’ to a uniformed police officer is released on parole.  He tries to see the good in people, hoping they’ll live up to it, but it just doesn’t always work out.  After being dumped by his girlfriend, (who to make matters worse won’t give him back his beloved dog), he has nowhere to go but to crash periodically at his mom’s, and then each of his sister’s places.  But his three sisters each have problems of their own – be it in their love life, work, etc., and see him as a bit of a burden.  Ned has made some stupid mistakes, but he is a genuinely likable and positive guy to watch.  He wants to be good and helpful, but sometimes others just aren’t ready for it… yet.

Our Idiot Brother never relies on stupid slapstick or gross-out humour, and stays believable while being comedic.  The script is sharp and the casting (in particular Paul Rudd) is perfect, and for those reasons alone, this makes for an entertaining and sweet time at the movies.  As an end of summer treat, older teens and adults should go see this one.


Our Idiot Brother Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Sometimes the simplest seeming folks are the smartest.  That is the case with Ned (Paul Rudd), a well-meaning man whose naiveté gets him into trouble.  When one misguided act of kindness lands Ned in jail, his organic farming hippy girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) leaves him for another man (T.J. Miller).  What’s worse is that she has taken Ned’s beloved Golden Retriever, Willie Nelson.  Now with nowhere to go, Ned must couch surf with his three demanding sisters, lesbian playgirl Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), over-protective mother Liz (Emily Mortimer), and pretentious Vanity Fair writer Miranda (Elizabeth Banks).  When Ned tries to help them with their problems, they blame him for making things worse.  Who is the real idiot now?

Our Idiot Brother is a refreshingly funny and genuinely sweet comedy.  Every single moment of it works perfectly, with never a dull moment.  Paul Rudd is charming and thoroughly likable as Ned.  The sisters, while rough on poor Ned, are never annoying to watch as they move the story along.  Unlike many recent comedies, Our Idiot Brother is never mean-spirited, nor does it rely on gross out humour.  Instead, the film relies on great acting, clever dialogue, and a good story to make a great film.  Our Idiot Brother is a surprisingly clever film that you don’t want to miss.


Our Idiot Brother Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Simple, sweet, honest, naive, clueless, careless, idiot are all words to describe Ned.  Who wouldn’t want a brother like that?  Ned, played with brilliant, low-key comic timing by Paul Rudd, ends up as a guest in the local jail thanks to his misguided attempt to help an officer in need at the organic farmers market.  Once released for good behavior, Ned returns back to the farm he shared with his hippyish girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and their dog, Willie Nelson.  Since Janet has replaced Ned with simple farm hand Billy (T.J. Miller) Ned has no choice but to move back in with his mom (Shirley Knight).  Mom is delighted to have her Nedley back home, but Ned thinks that in all fairness, he should spend equal time with his three sisters at their homes.

Ned first spends time with sister Liz (Emily Mortimer), her pretentious filmmaker husband Dylan (Steve Coogan) and their kids, sweet son River (Matthew Mindler) and baby Echo.  Without meaning to, he ends up discovering the naked truth about Dylan, introducing River to The Pink Panther and ultimately alienating Liz.

Next stop is Natalie’s place.  Sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) lives with her girlfriend, lawyer Cindy (Rashida Jones) and roommate artist Christian (Hugh Dancy).  It doesn’t take long before Ned wears out his welcome there.  Sister Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a type-A writer for Vanity Fair.  Ned’s couch surfing stop at her place doesn’t work out any better.  Ned manages to mess up an exclusive story Miranda is working on about the rich and famous Arabella (Janet Montgomery) and interferes with her relationship with her best friend, sci-fi writer Jeremy (Adam Scott).  So it’s back to mom’s house for Ned until his next prison stay and the one thing that will turn his life around.

Our Idiot Brother is a smartly written, well-acted comedy.  There are so many laugh out loud moments without resorting to gross-out or crude humour.  There are also some really sweet and touching scenes.  Ned is a genuinely nice guy who suffers from foot in mouth syndrome.  He lives his life always assuming the best in people and never has his own hidden agenda.  Paul Rudd is wonderful in the role.  Our Idiot Brother is one of the funniest and likable movies I’ve seen in a while.  I look forward to seeing it again on DVD and having another visit with Ned.  Go see this one with your favorite dysfunctional relative.


Our Idiot Brother Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Our Idiot Brother is Ned (Paul Rudd), whom we first meet selling produce from the biodynamic farm shared with hippie partner Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and dog Willie Nelson. Busted for selling pot to a cop, Ned returns from prison to find Janet, now with simple-minded Billy (T.J. Miller), won’t take Ned back and won’t give him the dog. Back with his mother (Shirley Knight), we meet Ned’s sisters at a reunion dinner. Liz (Emily Mortimer) is married to Dylan (Steve Coogan), a pompous British documentary film maker, with a young son River (Matthew Mindler) and baby Echo. Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a type A feature writer living with Jeremy (Adam Scott), a laid back sci-fi author. Nat (Zooey Deschanel) is a free spirit partnered with lawyer Cindy (Rashida Jones). Nat is a raunchy stand-up comic and model for artist Christian (Hugh Dancy). Completely without guile, always meaning well and assuming others are too, Ned has a habit of blurting out things told him in confidence, which leads to no end of problems for the sisters, each with their own issues, and for Ned himself. However, just when all seems lost, the family comes together, a vindication of Ned’s naive sweetness.

Directed by Jesse Peretz from the first screenplay by his sister Evgenia Peretz and David Shisgall, Our Idiot Brother has the feel of a good Woody Allen film, at once poignant and witty with Paul Rudd leading a brilliant ensemble cast through a flawless script that unlike other recent comedies such as Bridesmaids and Crazy, Stupid, Love, has no weak or obnoxious moments. The folkie musical score goes perfectly with Ned’s wholesome efforts to see and motivate the best in everyone. Even cynics should feel good at the end.


Consensus: With strong performances from an ensemble cast that is fronted by excellent leading work from Paul Rudd, Our Idiot Brother is a surprisingly smart comedy with a heart of gold, that delivers a lot of big laughs along with an honest protagonist who genuinely sees the best in everyone around him.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2011 4:28 pm

    I love your approach to writing, with all of you getting a say. It makes it very fun. But here at least, it seems as if you agreed almost completely, like you could have written one long review and it would have fit all of you. Where’s the arguing? Not to be picky though, because I agree completely with what you all said. The movie was fun, lovable, and Rudd was brilliant. You can read my review of Our Idiot Brother if you weren’t turned off by the first part of my comment lol. Comment and subscribe and let me know how my review was!


    • December 7, 2011 11:16 pm

      Glad you enjoy our approach to writing reviews! Sometimes we all agree and other times we don’t, but in the case of Our Idiot Brother, it was just a really great comedy. What more can we really say?

      I like what you said in your review about Ned’s true gift being “unconditional love.” This is a big part of what makes the film stand out from other comedies – it has a genuine heart beneath the laughs.

      Thanks for reading and sharing a link to your own review!

      -John C.


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