When I saw the trailer for Our Idiot Brother I thought…Nope. Not interested. How could I possibly care about someone who is that stupid? Well, it turns out I was wrong and could care a lot. That was tricky thing to do because Paul Rudd‘s Ned could easily cross the fine line between innocence and absurdity, but Rudd is able to create a genuine character, not a caricature and that is a direct result of his talent.
The idiot brother, Ned, is actually an idealist that is very aware of how the world sees him. And yet, he chooses to believe in the good or at least, the potential of good in others. The story drops Ned off (after a stint in prison for a very silly lapse in judgement) into the middle of the lives of his three sisters. His direct, innocent and unintentional observations begin to cause havoc on their already dysfunctional lives and of course, they blame him when things begin to fall apart.
Elizabeth Banks , Zooey Deschanel , and Emily Mortimer are perfect as his siblings–each fulfilling a standard stereotype–Banks is the type A professional–Deschanel is the free spirit and a lesbian–Mortimer is the frazzled mother of two–but even with the clear types they play their parts well.
Writer/Director Jesse Peretz has created a simple, yet effective narrative. Peretz, along with his sister Evgenia Peretz seem to truly understand these characters and they created a loving portrait of a what feels like a real family. They have also added some great supporting characters. Rashida Jones is always a pleasure (and I like her the more I see of her). Steve Coogan and Adam Scott are great and solid male foils for the women. I must point out that there is a very clever, and well done, subplot that involves Ned’s dog, Willie Nelson, that is a thing of beauty.
Surprisingly, I was taken in by this little story. I found myself invested in the well-being of these people, especially Ned, who had stolen my heart by the end of it. I love when a film takes you on an unexpected journey–so, go ahead and check it out–you may find that you will care for and like Ned more than you do most people and he is NOT the idiot everyone thinks he is.