Our Idiot Brother (2011) – Jesse Peretz

Just a terrible movie about a dozen unlikable people and one dog who’s likable enough, I guess. Our Idiot Brother tells the story of Ned (Paul Rudd), a far too trusting simpleton who, through his earnest and honest ways, shows his awful sisters (Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel and Elizabeth Banks) that just because they’re awful doesn’t mean they can’t be happy about it. Every single thing about this dreadful movie is half-baked including its very purpose; is it a comedy or a drama? It’s neither really and it isn’t funny enough to be a comedy nor is it serious enough to be concerned with believability. The Ned character is at once self-aware enough to realize what others think about him but at the same time too dense to understand even the most obvious social requirements. The sister’s behave badly, Ned exposes this innocently, they resent him for it and then all his forgotten because Ned and his estranged dog are reunited. I’m not kidding, that’s the plot of this movie. None of the relationships are satisfactorily resolved, and that’s a problem when you consider that the movie is supposed to be about an angelic presence improving the lives of those around him, but we never believe that because it’s all too rushed and underwritten. How about one sister and not three and combine their sticking points and hang-ups as many are redundant in the miserable script as it is. That reduces the number of tertiary characters by quite a bit (husbands, lovers, boyfriends that all cancel each other out) and we can perhaps focus on one driving narrative instead of being torn in different directions for the entire interminable 90 minutes.

I was having a discussion with someone the other day about what makes the foundation of a good movie, her position was a good cast and mine was a good script. Our Idiot Brother is the definitive answer. It has a great cast that also includes Adam Scott and Steve Coogan. Paul Rudd is terribly likeable as a lead in a movie. But not here. Emily Mortimer is a terrific actress. She’s not allowed to be here. It hard to find a more personable actress than Elizabeth Banks but the script here doesn’t think much of her. Zooey Deschanel has an admirable energy and an inherent cuteness that usually is hard to repress but with Our Idiot Brother and Your Highness from earlier in the year, she finds herself in two of the worst movies of 2011.

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