Everyone knows the type: happily drifting through life without a sense of purpose. In Jesse Peretz’s newest film, Paul Rudd, as Ned, depicts a seemingly blissful life of the living “hippie” dream.
The film begins with Ned getting “tricked” into selling marijuana to an on-duty police officer and sent to jail. Albeit, this may seem stupid – as that is the portrayal of Ned that Rudd was aiming for. Despite the apparent simplicity seen in the character, we are subtly suggested to not simply write him off as an idiot. As the film continues, we begin to realize Ned simply has a pure-hearted faith in other people – he thinks that they will say and do things they actually mean.
Post prison, Ned finds that his world has turned upside down, his longtime girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn), has shacked up with another guy leaving him homeless and without his most worldly possession, his pooch Willie Nelson, who Janet insists on keeping. In his attempt to get back on his feet and become reunited with his precious dog, Ned temporarily resides with his family.
First he lands at the house of his drab and dreary sister, Liz (Emily Mortimer), who offers some assistance financially if Ned tends to her son and assists her documentary filmmaker husband (Steve Coogan) with his work.
However, his oblivious antics burn the bridge and lands Ned with his middle sister Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), the neurotic, would-be reporter.
Naiveté on his part, once again, lands him with the youngest and final of his sisters, the bi-curious hipster Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and her lawyer girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones). The roundabout journey Ned takes in order to put his life back together places him in the doghouse – so to speak – that he must dig his way out.
Our Idiot Brother has trouble portraying the ways in which real people communicate on a daily basis. It is full of over–exaggerated, shallow types of people – being played by the beautiful people of Hollywood – treating one another poorly. Although there can be truth to the ruthlessness of this dysfunctional family unit, it is impractical even for the film. Even the predictable conclusion that Ned is the glue that holds them all together and teaches his family lessons of sorts is unsatisfying.
Although directed by the Lemonheads bassist-turned-filmmaker, Pertez and stemming from a script written by his sister, Vanity Fair contributor Evgenia Pertez, and her husband, documentary-filmmaker David Schisgall, this dysfunctional-sibling comedy is better suited for a night at home than in theaters. Sporadic bouts of laughter from the audience lead to a comically appealing movie. However, it was, for the most part, lacking.