Happy bro lucky

Rated 3.0

“Whoa, dude. How long have we been sitting here? When did I grow this beard?”

Our Idiot Brother is not a great Paul Rudd movie, like Wet Hot American Summer or Role Models. It’s a good movie that probably would’ve sucked had Paul Rudd not signed on for it and brought his particular brand of brilliance to the proceedings.

Rudd shines as stoner-simpleton Ned, briefly imprisoned at the beginning of the film for selling pot to a uniformed police officer. Rudd’s naïve charm in the first few minutes alone makes the movie worth seeing.

The movie loses a little steam when Rudd starts hanging around with his sisters. Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a tense wannabe journalist who brings Ned along for an interview that goes dreadfully bad. While Miranda’s job troubles don’t make for hypnotic filmmaking, her strange relationship with a man in her building (the always funny Adam Scott) is good enough to balance her story out.

Then there’s Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), yet another movie lesbian who strays and has sex with a man as a silly plot device. Man, according to the movies, heterosexual males stand a pretty darned good chance with lesbians. Come on boys, head out to the local gay bar and make things happen like they do in these silly movies! Guaranteed, you’ll get kicked in the balls.

Finally, there’s Liz (Emily Mortimer), the straight-laced mom whose husband (Steve Coogan) is an ignorant asshole. Rudd’s Ned spends the most time in Liz’s household, where he develops a pretty funny relationship with their son. They reenact scenes from The Pink Panther, sometimes resulting in broken fingers.

Rudd sort of drifts through all of this soap opera stuff with ease, and he makes things giggle-worthy. His relationships with his parole officer and his dog, Willie Nelson, are actually far funnier than the interactions with his family. The level of Ned’s stupidity falls far short of annoying and more into the endearing range of stoner characters like the one James Franco played in Pineapple Express. Ned is a lovable dope of a man.

Of course, all of the predicaments get tied up with a pretty little bow, with Ned quite predictably being the smartest guy in his whole family even if his bloodstream is chock full of THC. It’s all rather mundane, but the laughs come at a fairly consistent rate—especially if your bloodstream is full of THC while watching it.

Deschanel gets a laugh or two even if she is hamstrung by an alarmingly stereotypical role. While Banks is an actress I usually enjoy, and it’s super cool to see Wet Hot and Role Models alumni Banks and Rudd exchanging lines on screen yet again, her character is perhaps a little overdone and, yes, annoying. Coogan is good at playing an unspeakable bastard, and Mortimer is just sort of there.

The actor who does steal scenes along with Rudd would have to be T.J. Miller as Billy, the equally stoned biodynamic farmer who shacks up with Ned’s girlfriend (the talented Kathryn Hahn, as funny here as she was in Step Brothers) while he’s in prison. Billy is Ned’s naiveté times 10, and there’s nothing he says in this movie that isn’t funny. Miller has to be one of the more under-appreciated comic actors out there right now. Give that boy a killer sitcom or a movie franchise.

So, if you’re making a list of future rentals for R-rated comedies—because, let’s face it, nobody has really gone to see this in the theaters—Our Idiot Brother is better than Bad Teacher and The Change-Up, but not as good as Bridesmaids or Horrible Bosses. They’ve all been released within mere months of each other, so expect them on Netflix soon.