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Our Idiot Brother

A movie directed by Jesse Peretz

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Not so dumb after all

  • Aug 24, 2011


Written by David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz

Directed by Jesse Peretz

Starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer


Ned: I like to think that if you put your trust out there, that if you really give people the benefit of the doubt, see their best intentions, people will rise to the occasion.


Paul Rudd is practically perfect as Ned, the title character in Jesse Peretz’s Sundance breakout, OUR IDIOT BROTHER. The ownership in the title belongs to a trio of sisters played by the lovely Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer. Talent abounds in this quaint, little comedy but the performances are almost lost in the midst of this meandering plot. Fresh from a brief stint in prison for selling pot to a police officer, Ned bounces from sister to sister to sister and teaches each of them a little something about themselves while they let him crash on their couches. Unfortunately, despite all the experience and expertise between them, Rudd and company were not able to teach Peretz anything about structure and timing.


The trouble with OUR IDIOT BROTHER is that it is pretty obvious, or at least it was to me anyway, that Ned is most certainly not an idiot. Peretz goes out of his way to make him look like one during his arrest at the opening of the film. I mean, you have to be pretty darn stupid to sell drugs to a uniformed cop but that isn’t what I took from that scene. I couldn’t figure out why this seemingly good natured, friendly police officer was so hellbent on entrapping this harmless produce vendor. Perhaps Ned is the town dealer but Peretz doesn’t bother contextualizing that at all. Nor does he bother giving us any history on the sisters that shape the film for him. The result is a lot of caricature - from a workaholic to an unhappy housewife to a promiscuous free spirit afraid to commit - and not as much character as a result. The cast easily elevates the material but there is nothing they can do to mask how it will all play out. The question as to who is the real idiot among them is a no brainer from the start.


On the one hand, I commend the filmmaker for not taking the obvious road with OUR IDIOT BROTHER. Peretz could have easily played his game in perfectly constructed episodic segments. Each would establish the appropriate archetype for each sister and Ned would come in and tear it to pieces before anyone has the time to realize it was all for the best. Instead, Peretz tries his hardest to keep things loose and fluid, having Ned constantly moving and always taking us on the scenic route. Given that we end up exactly where we expected to all along though, it seems to me there must have been a more efficient way to get there. Maybe I’m too smart for my own good though.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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Not so dumb after all Not so dumb after all Not so dumb after all

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September 01, 2011
For some reason, this reminds of "Hesher", but unlike that movie, this one never grabbed me. Thanks, Joseph!
September 29, 2011
I have not seen Hesher. Is it worth it?
More Our Idiot Brother reviews
review by . December 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    It isn't a particularly easy task to make an R-rated comedy that doubles as a heartfelt drama, but "Our Idiot Brother" is more than capable of delivering that rare raunch-fest that contains characters who we identify with and even love, situations that at least feel somewhat real, and dramatic turning points that are sappy and sentimental yet never too difficult to bear. And since the film succeeds at doing all this, yes, I thought it was pretty solid; not …
review by . August 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Our Idiot Brother' 'Two Jews On Film' Only One Gets The Laughs (Video)
         By Joan Alperin-Schwartz      Paul Rudd is Ned Rochlin, an organic farmer,  who sees the good in everyone.  So when a policeman comes up to him at a local Farmers Market and begs Ned to sell him some weed, he's only to happy to oblige. Afterall, Ned felt sorry for the cop, who said he was suffering from job-related stress.  Now what does Ned get for this act of compassion?  He gets busted and sent to prison, of course. …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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