Our Idiot Brother. I am a huge fan of Paul Rudd. I mean… I Love You Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Anchorman, Knocked Up, Role Models… Some stellar work. But let me warn you… This isn’t in the same genre practically. This is a whole different style of humor. The other films that you probably know Rudd from will hit you over the head with comedy. Usually Rudd is the “straight” man to someone else’s ridiculous character (usually Jason Segal, Seth Rogan, or someone along those lines). This movie leans on Rudd as pretty much a solo act with an ensemble cast to support him. It’s not a buddy comedy like he’s accustomed to. Because of this, it’s a much more subtle humor. I didn’t laugh out loud much at all, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a great movie.
So here’s the premise. Paul Rudd stars as Ned, a loveable and caring guy who ends up making a mess of things by always being honest and trying to do what’s right. He’s likable from the very beginning and it’s hard to watch his world crash down around him even though he has the best intentions. He has a trio of sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, and Zooey Deschanel) who all try to help him and end up on the wrong end of Ned’s honesty.
It would be easy for a movie like this to fall into that category where it’s awkward and not funny at all (see: Dinner for Schmucks). Luckily, the movie understands that this may be hard to watch with little payoff, so they luckily spend a lot of time and effort making Ned someone that you truly care about. It’s not just a grossly exaggerated character who destroys everything in their path. This is a guy who truly and honestly only wants to help. And Rudd’s subtle style of humor keeps it real but you can also sense the deeper understanding in his eyes to the consequences of his actions. He succeeded in this where other (more notable) actors have failed.
So, is it good?
Yes. It is. But I wouldn’t say this is the type of escapism that most of you would run to. This isn’t like Anchorman or Knocked Up. This is a subtle look at a really fascinating character and there just happens to be some natural humor in this journey. Zooey Deschanel is a struggling comedian and her scenes are hilarious. Rudd’s former girlfriend (and her new boyfriend) are a hilarious comedic duo, but not in an overdone way. There is some great character work in some of these supporting characters.
Even the dog (cleverly named Willie Nelson) has a lot of character and is one of the emotional cornerstones of the film.
Should you see it?
Yes. But you have to be in the right mindset. And you have to understand what the movie is like. This could be a huge disappointment if you’re looking for a clone of other Rudd films. So, look beyond that. And you’ll be glad you did.