Wow. All I can say is that Paul Rudd needs some serious recognition. He is perhaps one of the best comic actors out there, he also has a range that suits everyone.
Our Idiot Brother is his recent feature. I don’t think it’s set the box office alight but that could be due to the fact that this is not an Apatow production nor does it star the typical rota of Frat Pack/SNL comics; but some recognisable tertiary comic offerings include: Elisabeth Banks, T.J Miller, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones and Kathryn Hahn. Hugh Dancy, Zooey Deschanel (ever gorgeous and charming) a sweet-faced Emily Mortimer and legendary actress Shirley Knight also star in this underrated comical drama.
STORY (may be spoilers):
Our Idiot Brother refers to the brother of three women and his idiotic ideals that intrude on their less than perfect lives. Scruffy Ned (Rudd) who, after a well-meaning but completely imbecilic brush with the law (…selling drugs to a uniformed cop), finds himself without a girlfriend, home or dog, subsequently leaving him to go and live with his mother (Shirley Knight) and three sisters, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), and Liz (Emily Mortimer). It’s not long before Ned’s well-meaning, yet disruptive actions causes him to over-stay his welcome in each of their homes and lands him in hot water with his probation officer Omar (Sterling K.Brown) . The story arc comes when his sisters, at the end of their tether having been supportive in the beginning blame him for their shortcomings and push him too far; it becomes clear that though their brother is indeed an idiot, he is inherently good and free of the nepotism, lies and delusions that they find themselves wrapped in.
This film is not at all what I expected. In some ways it’s completely predictable. So what? It’s the way it’s executed that really matters and I can say they did good in this film. Rudd is perhaps one leading actor in a line of few who will always be the good guy even regardless of his characters shortcomings and actions. I don’t think anyone has done this as well as Tom Hanks. I think of Paul Rudd and I smile. This film made me smile the whole way through. The comedy wasn’t as crude or as clever as Rudd’s usual bromance/Apatow ventures. I have to credit him for that because comedy nowadays is harder to do without a swear word thrown in after every other line. Ned epitomizes character that would probably make the world a slightly better place to live in. He’s idealistic, honest and nice to everyone he meets, seeing only the good in people and calling out but not judging those who do wrong. He tries to help them, in the real world, real people can’t do that and to an extent don’t want to. He’s like Jesus. Bare with me here. He looks like Jesus he travels (albeit to between his sister homes) to spread good will but is subsequently hated and judging upon his ideals the comparisons don’t end there. I digress, I came away floating at the concept of having such a person in my life and thought my family were probably the closest people who embodied these traits…because they’re my family.
Deschanel, Banks and Mortimer deliver brilliant turns as the somewhat selfish repressive sisters. Each hold their own wonderfully and couldn’t be seemingly more different as people in real life and on film, however when they come together during scenes its wonderful to see the individual characters interact. It’s a wonder how Ned turned out so good. Shirley Knight breaks out an endearing and subtly humorous performance as their mother; showing deep affection for her children but especially her son Ned.
Tertiary supporting characters are well written and just as strong. Even the probation officer Omar, who probably due to his job role is the cynical polar opposite of Ned, is won over by his friendliness; It is probably best to note here that Rudd’s best scenes throughout the film come from all the one on ones he has with each character, and through that each actors performance is better off for it. Rashida Jones plays Cindy, Natalie’s lesbian lover and I have to say having seen and enjoyed her in I love you, Man as Rudd’s love interest I was delighted with her in this film, dressed down but still utterly gorgeous. I completely believed her getting it on with Zooey D. Hugh Dancy’s lingering act as the hot Artist who upsets the liberal equilibrium of the couple’s lives, was definitley a right move for the actor who has been quiet on the film front lately. Jeremy (Adam Scott) as Miranda’s love interest could easily have his own spin-off film because Adam Scott is very good – why have I not seen him do more? I’m talking successor in the vein of Hanks and Rudd good. Even Steve Coogan as rogue philandering filmmaker husband Dylan opposite Emily Mortimer’s Liz was nicely done. However, it was Coogan’s scenes with Rudd that really did favours for this film. T.J Miller and Kathryn Hahn are always comedy gold in their supportive roles Hahn perhaps could do with being given a chance to lead an independent film, she’s truly one of the funniest underrated actresses out there. Lastly a gorgeous and funny debut from Matthew Mindler as Mortimer’s and Coogan’s young son, River, clearly a child who up until Ned’s arrival hadn’t really been able to enjoy the delights of being a child.
Our Idiot Brother wonderful this film. It’s just sweet enough to make you fall in love with plain good story telling and dramatic enough to keep you watching to find out how it all comes together in the end and the comedy is easy on the ears and eyes. With the exception of a naked Coogan I didn’t find myself turning down the volume or blushing due to bad language but I did laugh, because Paul Rudd is always funny. I loved it. I came away loving everyone in it, and isn’t that what Ned would have wanted? I could watch it again and again just to feel good. Happy go lucky. I implore you all to watch. Even if its to see Rudd pine for a dog called Willie Nelson. Yes.