Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our Idiot Brother

Directed by Jesse Peretz.
2011. Rated R, 96 minutes.
Steve Coogan
Shirley Knight

Ned (Rudd) is a lovable man-child who has three sisters: Miranda (Banks), Natalie (Deschanel) and Liz (Mortimer). True to the movie’s title, he’s arrested within a few minutes of us meeting him for selling marijuana to a uniformed officer. Yes, he sells weed to a cop in uniform. Fast forward to the day he gets released from prison. Not only has his job as an organic farmer vanished, but his girl has replaced him with a guy who could be his clone and kicks him out of the house. She won’t even let him have the dog he absolutely adores. With nowhere else to go, he goes back to mom’s house. Due to circumstances and opportunity he then winds up spending a little time living with each of his sisters. He accidentally wreaks havoc on each of their lives mostly by not knowing when to shut up.

Calling Ned an idiot is putting it mildly. The same applies to calling this movie idiotic. He’s presented as a charming dunce who has apparently never met a stranger. People freely confide in him things they’ve never told anyone else despite only recently meeting him. He can’t help but regurgitate what he’s heard to anyone who bothers to ask. In addition, he accepts any explanation given to him for things he sees with his own eyes as if he’s a three year old. The film merely plays on these things by dropping him into a vicious cycle. He moves in with one of his sisters, repeats something he’s been told or talks about something he’s seen and that sister’s life goes spiraling out of control, not they had any control to begin with. The sister then kicks him out and it’s on to the next house to repeat the process.

Allegedly, Our Idiot Brother is a comedy. However, very little of it is funny. Instead, we just roll our eyes in disbelief at how stupid this man is, wonder if he has some undiagnosed disability. Slogging through the movie is made all the more tedious because we can easily tell what this is all leading to. In case you plan on seeing this I won’t come right out and say it. I will ask you this: what happens in every other movie where a mentally challenged individual is surrounded by self-centered, busy people who think he’s a burden? If you know the answer to this question you’ve no need to bother with Our Idiot Brother.

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