Our Idiot Brother
Our Idiot Brother is more therapy than comedy; a cinematic trip to the psychiatrist – if the psychiatrist is a shaggy, magical hippie. In a deserved lead role, Paul Rudd is the idiot (and shrink) in question – a man dumb enough to sell drugs to an uniformed officer, yet smart enough to solve life’s petty problems in 90 minutes or less.
After serving his time, Ned (Rudd) finds his girlfriend has moved on, taking another free spirit as a lover and leaving him with nothing, not even his lovable dog, Willie Nelson. Lacking options, and a job, Ned is forced to retreat to his childhood home to regroup. Once there he blissfully intertwines himself in the dramatic lives of his three sisters, each of which painstakingly adheres to a one-dimensional lifestyle. One is a depressed housewife (Emily Mortimer); another a depressed corporate go-getter (Elizabeth Banks); and the last a depressed lesbian (Zooey Deschanel). One wonders how Rudd managed to escape adolescence with such a cheerful disposition.
The sisters are drawn so broadly it’s difficult to see them as real; they are written as characters, not people. It’s as if they were created by taking one or two of the most obvious traits of the archetype and calling it a day. But if not for the cookie-cutter personalities it would be that much harder for Ned to swoop in and save the day. His “take life as it comes” philosophy goes a long way, opening minds and eyes only in a make-believe world where Rashida Jones is second-rate.