Our Idiot Brother (2011)

Our Idiot Brother
Director: Jesse Peretz
Writer: Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall
Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, Adam Scott, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Kathryn Hahn, T.J. Miller, Hugh Dancy

Ned (Paul Rudd) is an extremely nice guy. He’s so nice, he’s actually stupid and so it happens that he sells dope to a policeman in uniform who tells him that he just had a rough day. When Ned’s released from prison, he falls back into the lives of his sisters Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) – who tries to get her break as a journalist, Liz (Emily Mortimer) – who just tries to make her marriage with documentary film maker Dylan (Steve Coogan) work and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) – who tries to get her stand-up career going, lovingly supported by her girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones). As Ned attempts to get back on his feet, he waltzes through his sisters’ lives and makes a mess of everything – with the best intentions.

I was not going to see this film because I knew that I would not like it. But my mom, gran and sister took me anyway and it was honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. But that still doesn’t mean that it was any good.

I have issues with the concept of this film for two reasons. One, it basically tells you that you can choose between being nice, happy but a loser or being a secretly unhappy asshole, but successful. Which is a dichotomy I don’t subscribe to. [I also don’t believe that being nice and idealistic is the same as being completely stupid. I happen to think of myself as a pretty nice and pretty intelligent person, so I take personal offense at that. But that’s another story.]

The second reason is that having the titular idiot crashland into the lives of three grown women who are all more adult than he is and dealing with their lives in their own way (which may not be the best way, but they do deal) and resolving the whole thing by the idiot teaching them how to love and how they can do better in their lives – I’m sorry, but that just makes me want to retch. It may have helped if said idiot had been female as well (if only the tiniest bit) but the lesson-to-uptight-women-teaching manchild is despicable.

Going into the film I was pretty certain that that would be what I’d get, polished with a healthy dose of stoner humor and Apatow levels of misanthropy. Fortunately, the movie never really descends that low and it never actually hurt to watch it. Well, almost never – the way they treated Natalie’s bisexuality made me want to scream (“how can she bi if she’s with a woman now?” “What, she slept with a man? I knew that she was missing dicks!” Gaaaaaah!) and the way Natalie and Miranda are supportive of Liz by telling her that she didn’t stay sexy enough for her husband and that’s why he cheats really made me want to claw at somebody’s eyes. I’m just not sure whose.

Anyway. Despite all of that, the movie could have been worse and at least there were many people I really like in the supporting roles. Also, combine Hugh Dancy and hipsterdom – both not usually very attractive to me – and you get a uterus melting combination. I’m not sure how that happened, but I approve. Plus, my mom, gran and sister did enjoy it, so maybe I’m just being humorless again.

Summarising: Maybe it’s your cup of tea, but I can’t recommend it.

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