Friday, August 26, 2011
Our Idiot Brother
On paper this film looks like the perfect dysfunctional family dramedy. It has an indie dream cast including Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, and Adam Scott. With that cast, Sundance screeners undoubtedly would have programmed it sight unseen. I sure would have. Oh, and don't let the poster fool you, this is an ensemble not a Paul Rudd film. And aside from the cast, the idea has a lot of potential, with Rudd as the happy-go-lucky 'idiot' protagonist who consistently makes extremely questionable decisions, like selling pot to a uniformed police officer because he's really friendly. And it's also about the impact Rudd's character has on his three siblings, played by Deschanel, Mortimer, and Banks. On paper it sounds fantastic. But sadly, the final meal is not quite as good as its ingredients.
For one thing, Rudd doesn't seem enough like an idiot. He certainly doesn't play the character as mentally challenged. But yet he repeatedly does things that normal people with half a brain wouldn't do. So is he supposed to be an idiot or not? And that leads into my second issue: Since he's not a buffoon, the film really isn't all that funny. There are a few comical moments for sure, but not enough to recommend this film as a comedy. But it's also not overly heartwarming or emotional. It's just somewhere in between.
Like a lot of the dramedies that came out of Sundance this year (e.g. 'Win Win', 'Cedar Rapids') I just wish this one were a little bit better and I can't help but feel disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I sufficiently enjoyed my 90 minutes. The cast alone makes this one likeable enough to go and see. But I must admit, given the choice in theaters, you're better off with 'Crazy Stupid Love'. And if you want to see Rudd at his best, re-visit 'I Love You Man'.