Sundance 2011 Review: MY IDIOT BROTHER
Director: Jesse Peretz
Writers: Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall
Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott
Ned (Paul Rudd) is an idiot. He's also a Mr. Nice Guy, which puts him in a world full of really bad situations. In the beginning of MY IDIOT BROTHER, Ned sells pot to an on-duty uniformed cop. He gets out of jail early on good behavior (won Most Cooperative four months running!) and has an unpleasant surprise waiting for him when he comes home to his girlfriend - she's moved on and is keeping his best friend, puppy dog Willie Nelson. Without a job and a home, Ned goes back home to live with his three sisters, accidentally causing chaos with each as he stays with them.
MY IDIOT BROTHER sets up like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Each time Ned stays with a sister, he's accidentally put in very comically uncomfortable situations, with each becoming more hazardous than the last. With Ned being a hippie, he's all about trying to do good, and he trusts people far too much which in turn, gets him in a lot of trouble. He's a dreamer and is completely oblivious to that fact that people sometimes do asshole things. The three sisters (played by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Dechanel, and Emily Mortimer) are afraid of facing truths, but understand the ass-holisms of people, which has made them emotionally dead from the big problems they're currently facing.
We've seen Paul Rudd in plenty of comedies before - ANCHORMAN, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, and I LOVE YOU, MAN to highlight some of his best - but his long-awaited time to headline has finally coming to full fruition. In MY IDIOT BROTHER, Rudd goes for broke and nails the stereotype that all hippies do is smoke pot and live off the fat of the land. He was born for this role. This leading character so likable and hilarious, a sequel wouldn't be a bad idea.
Like a gay cousin, everyone has that sibling who is a constant fuck up. MY IDIOT BROTHER works so well because it was co-written and directed by a brother and sister. Jesse Peretz (director) and Evgenia Peretz (co-writer) understand the value of family and how sometime we take our siblings for granted. With life constantly moving so fast, sometimes it's hard to think about the line "family first."
My only qualm about the film is towards the third act, it starts to feel a bit long, even though it's only a 95 minute feature. The situations become redundant and knowing what's about to happen puts a dent in BROTHER's laugh factor. This works for Curb Your Enthusiasm, because the episodes are short and after 10 very successful seasons (and still going), it seems as though creator Larry David wants the viewer to know what's about to happen from the get-go.
Redundancy aside, it's Rudd's Ned who makes this movie worth the watch. He's a charming guy who just can't catch a break. In a genre where bonehead mistakes can kill the laughs, MY IDIOT BROTHER is very smart.
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