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Woe is Us When the Hippie Has Something Useful to Teach Us!

Movie Review: Our Idiot Brother (2011)
Summary: An idealist barges into the lives of his three sisters.
Spoilers: none

Our Idiot Brother is about "Ned" (Paul Rudd), the type of brother with more than a few problems. He is the type that screws up everything he touches and is into one problem and out of another. Every family has a Ned.

Ned is a hippie idealist who kicks back with recreational drug-use. He is also quite stupid. We meet him just before he sells drugs to a plain-clothes police officer and we get to follow him just after he gets out of a months-long prison stint.
His next problem then becomes where to live. His spacey hippie girlfriend, "Janet" (Kathryn Hahn) has thrown him out, and worse, won't let him take Willie Nelson, his beloved dog.

Rotating between moving back in with mom and staying with his three sisters - none of whom want to put up with him for very long - Ned is soon doing uncle duties with his 10-year-old nephew. When he goes to work for brother-in-law "Dylan" (Steve Coogan) trying to raise money to get a place of his own, his hold-nothing-back honesty manages to drive everyone up the wall.


Ned may be a clueless and na├»ve hippie whose only outstanding qualities are honesty and unconditional love, but Ned's sisters are quite the opposite; smart, discreet, picky, socially pliable, and always looking out for #1. Perhaps “disingenuous jerks” is a better description, depending on how well you relate to them, but they do like many default to doing—look out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

"Miranda" (Elizabeth Banks) works for a paper. She likes a guy in her apartment building, Jeremy (Adam Scott), who lends a hand with chores. "Natalie" (Zooey Deschanel) lives with "Cindy" (Rashida Jones), but the two have something to talk about. "Liz" (Emily Mortimer) is married to Dylan, and they, too, have something to talk about. Thanks to Ned, they will be having those discussions whether they like it or not.


Our Idiot Brother possesses the rare quality of having dry, intelligent humor in a story with enough gravity to make it meaningful, and even irresistible. It’s one of the best films of the year and one that doesn’t have to rely on star power or even character charm for its success, but rather, a story fashioned with wit that possesses all of the right combination of winning elements.

Every performer is on the same page in terms of what they want to accomplish on screen in their respective parts, and those parts delightfully come together with a resounding level of bounce.

Having been written to reflect the unspoken truths between siblings in a real-feeling family atmosphere, we find ourselves loving what we’re watching. The result is an adorable movie that amuses while reminding us of an oft-forgotten little concept called honesty. It sure comes in handy in the long-run!

(JH)

Grade: A+ (4 stars)
Rated: R (for nudity, language, and adult situations)
Director: Jesse Peretz
Starring: "Ned" (Paul Rudd), "Miranda" (Elizabeth Banks), "Natalie" (Zooey Deschanel), "Sadie" (Francesca Papalia), "Liz" (Emily Mortimer), "Jeremy" (Adam Scott), "Cindy" (Rashida Jones), "Dylan" (Steve Coogan), "Billy" (T.J. Miller), "Omar" (Sterling K. Brown)
Genre: Comedy / Drama
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