Our Idiot Brother (2011)


I Won ‘Most Cooperative Inmate’, Four Months Running

Oh man.  I’m on number three of three back to back rom-com reviews and I am feeling pretty exhausted.  This is such hard work.  OW!  Finger cramp.  It’s not from the typing though.  It’s my time of the month.  Well, at least I’m finishing off my reviews with the movie I expected to be the funniest and most enjoyable.  I like the cast so much that I couldn’t possibly not like it, right?  Let’s find out.  This movie is Our Idiot Brother, written by David Schisgall, directed by Jesse Peretz, and starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Shirley Knight, Kathryn Hahn, T.J. Miller, Hugh Dancy, Sterling K. Brown, Janet Montgomery, Matthew Mindler, Bob Stephenson, and Katie Aselton.

Ned (Paul Rudd) is a farmer who lives with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn), and their dog, Willie Nelson … or at least he does until he sells weed to a uniformed police officer and goes to jail for a little while.  He may not be too bright, or perhaps he’s just a little too optimistic and trusting of others.  When he gets out of jail, Janet has a new boyfriend, Billy (T.J. Miller), and refuses to give Ned his dog back.  Billy tells Ned that, if he’s able to get $1000 together, he will convince Janet to let Ned rent a goat house to live in.  Ned goes to live with his mom (Shirley Knight) for a little while, and then starts doing odd jobs for his three sisters to get money, but he also kind of messes up their lives a little in the process.  For his sister Liz (Emily Mortimer), he goes to help her husband Dylan (Steve Coogan) film his documentary about ballet dancers or some shit, but he ends up catching Dylan having sex with the ballerina.  For Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), he drives her to an interview she has with her client, Lady Arabella (Janet Montgomery).  Miranda gets very little information from Arabella, but Arabella confides some very personal details in Ned, who then lets them slip to Miranda.  Ned also becomes involved in her relationship with Jeremy (Adam Scott), who wants to be more than just friends with her.  For Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), he poses nude for her artist friend, Christian (Hugh Dancy), with whom she cheats on her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), and gets knocked up.  Ned just wants to hang out with his family, and get his dog back, but his sisters don’t really want him around.

Did any of that sound like a comedy to you?  Yeah, not really to me either.  This movie is likeable in every way except for the fact that it’s a comedy that is not funny.  Any humor to this movie is like a dull hum that you may not even notice and probably won’t laugh at.  The most it got from me is a smile.  It felt kind of like an artsy version of a comedy, but lead to me thinking it played more as a drama.  Ned does a couple of stupid things throughout the movie that are mildly entertaining, but most of the movie is about the three sister’s lives falling apart and choosing to blame Ned for it because he told people what was going on.  Ned didn’t make Liz’s husband cheat on her, he just told Miranda about it.  Ned didn’t want stories told to him in confidence to get out just so his selfish sister could write a good story, nor did he make Jeremy and Miranda talk shit about the other person behind their back to him.  Ned didn’t make Natalie cheat on Cindy either.  But he gets blamed for all of it.  In a podcast called Doug Loves Movies, Doug Benson suggested that this movie should be called My Three Bitch Sisters because Ned isn’t that stupid, he’s just overly nice and his sisters are bitches.

The performances in this movie were fine as performances, but not that great as comedic performances.  Paul Rudd was about the second funniest person in the movie, but didn’t get a great amount of laughs out of me.  T.J. Miller was the funniest person in the movie, but he was not in the movie very much.  His interactions with Rudd were the occasions that made me chuckle a little.  Rudd plays pretty mellow and uneventful for the whole movie and has only one occasion when he lashes out at his family because they’re ruining a game of charades and he just wants to spend time with his family.  Everyone else had good performances, but they just weren’t funny.  The four main girls, at least, were all very attractive.  Elizabeth Banks didn’t play a very likeable character, which bothered me because I think of her as a very likeable person from the other things I’ve seen her in.  She’s also much better looking as a blonde than as a brunette.  I expected good comedy from Zooey Deschanel because I’ve seen a couple episodes of the New Girl, where she’s very likeable and funny.  But she didn’t really bring any funny to this movie.  She’s even a sort of aspiring stand up comedian, but her sets are more uncomfortably unfunny, which it seems that they intended, but it would’ve been nice to get to laugh in this comedy.  Emily Mortimer is probably the nicest sister, and probably gives the most emotional and comedic performance amongst the sisters, but her comedy is more about her being a little awkward.  Rashida Jones comes close to funny, but I think I was bothered by her in this movie because they made her really lesbian and dressed almost like a guy, when she’s very attractive in real life and they wasted it with lesbo-gear.  Adam Scott didn’t play a douche, as most of his performances I’ve seen him in are, but he also didn’t contribute any funny.  Are we seeing a pattern develop?

This movie is strangely well liked among critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes.  I don’t get it.  It would be a good movie if anything about the movie claimed that it was a drama.  It’s mostly dramatic scenes with a few, sparse laughs.  A drama can have a few laughs, and a comedy can have a few dramatic scenes, but a comedy can’t have only a few comedic scenes.  The performances were good, but not funny.  You may like this movie if you go in expecting a light drama, but instead, I just say you don’t really need to watch it.  Our Idiot Brother gets “Nothing like two dudes and a dog making candles” out of “Such a cliche”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

2 responses to “Our Idiot Brother (2011)

  1. This review makes me not feel as bad for not watching this movie in the theaters. If the commercials are made to portray the movie as being a comedy, then damn it I would expect a comedy that rivals other Paul Rudd movies (like Role Models). Incidentally, I pinned this site finally to my pinterest because of the accuracy and detail of this reviewer. 🙂

    • I don’t know what “pinterest” means, but … thank you? And you goddamned better show off your brother’s site! I support YOUR interests! I bought you your camera … with mom’s money … And I don’t appreciate you reading this review, ’cause I have a bad feeling about why you’d be interested in something called “Idiot Brother”.

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