Our Idiot Brother

Posted on June 5, 2013


How do you not watch a movie with Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Zoey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Steve Coogan?

Clearly, many people agree with me, since the movie made almost five times its budget in just three months.


Ned (Paul Rudd) is living his dream life on an organic vegetable farm with his dog, Willie Nelson. An innocent naïf, he makes a mistake selling pot to the wrong person. When he gets out of jail, he finds himself evicted from the farm, and moves in with his sisters.

Ned’s honesty and idealism reveals the truths his sisters have been hiding from themselves, ending or at least complicating their relationships.

Can the family hold together? Will Ned get Willie Nelson back?

At Length

Okay, first off, I totally get it. No one is universally loved.

Paul Rudd’s everyman doesn’t work for everyone. Zoey Deschanel’s big-eyed manic pixie dream girl rubs some people the wrong way.


Well, good news: This movie requires everyone to play against type.

Paul Rudd plays Ned as someone who is purposefully naïve. He does not come from an isolated background or from another world entirely. He grew up in our world and rejected its values. He is a pacifist, and endlessly patient, but he is not powerless.


Part of the drama of the movie comes from how far the world can push Ned before he snaps.

As Ned’s sisters, Elizabeth Banks, Zoey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer are people who made different choices than Ned. Having a man-child suddenly thrust into their lives is predictably upsetting. And that’s before Ned starts telling them the truths they’ve been denying.


I have three sisters, so this movie touches home for me. Although I have my faults that irritate my sisters, I’ve also been on the receiving end of some drama queen behavior from them. In that sense, Our Idiot Brother rang true for me.



Okay, I lied a little bit. The marketing does give away most of the big, funny, moments from this film. However, there is a lot more character and a lot more story than the marketing showed.


As I’ve said elsewhere, Hollywood marketing understand subtlety the way dogs understand door knobs. They know it exists and what it’s for, but not how to use it.

In this case, that’s good news for us, the viewing audience. We get to experience the character and story moments fresh, and that’s where the movie’s heart lies.


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Posted in: Movies