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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our Idiot Brother (Release Date: 8-26-2011)

        Paul Rudd is a rare kind of actor. One's appreciation of his screen presence has little to do with wether or not he's a, 'quality thespian,' or not The man has a type of charm that can't really be taught, and it allows him to hold the screen even when he seems to hardly be acting at all. A considerable amount of Rudd's appeal derives from the fact that he seems like a guy you'd love to hang out with, and before you take that as a slight, consider: Would you really say anything different about past greats like James Stewart or Cary Grant? With Our Idiot Brother, Rudd's charm is finally given a solo top-billing, and we get to see exactly how far his magnetism can take a flick.

        Rudd stars as Ned, an unbreakable optimist who, as the film opens, is tricked into selling marijuana to an officer in uniform, earning himself several months in prison. Upon his release, Ned finds out that his organic farm cohabitant/lover (Kathryn Hahn) has left him for another man (T.J. Miller), leaving him without a place to stay. From here, affable, clumsy Ned takes turns living with each member of his family, his doting mother (Shirley Knight), his career-obsessed sister (Elizabeth Banks), his shrunken house-wife sibling (Emily Mortimer), and his aloof, bi-sexual hipster sister (Zooey Deschanel). His wacky, well-intentioned antics have (surprise!) negative repercussions on all of their lives.

        As written by David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz, and directed by Jesse Peretz, Our Idiot Brother never really presents itself as the uproarious knee-slapper that it's title and R-rating might suggest. There's a real laugh here and there, but more often than not, Brother is more prone to coaxing chuckles and contented smiles. Borrowing from an, 'Enlightened Idiot,' story arch as old as Chaplin and Capra, the film is warm and tickling, its occasional vulgarities, while often well-timed and executed, contrasting against the movie's good-natured sense of innocence.

        Your enjoyment of Our Idiot Brother will likely hinge on One factor, and One factor alone: How much you like Rudd in the role of Ned. Some will undoubtably find his relentless good attitude as grating as the characters in the movie do, but I personally couldn't help but be won over by his overwhelming positivity. In fact, his character even goes a ways towards making one forget about the film's other failures, such as its dependency on stock characters and a completely rushed and botched conclusion. There's really not too much else to say about this One: Either you like what Rudd's selling (and if you're a fan of his, this is a must see), or you don't. Simple as that.

Grade: B+

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