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'Our Idiot Brother' a likeable comedy

Article Published: Sep. 1, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 6, 2011
'Our Idiot Brother' a likeable comedy

Movie trailers can be misleading.

With the magic of editing, producers can market a movie to practically anyone, playing up certain aspects for certain demographics.

A few years back, a clever Internet dweller produced a faux trailer for Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining," effectively reworking it as a romantic comedy (go ahead and YouTube "Shining"). It's a - forgive the pun - shining example of audience manipulation, playful as it may be.

Trailers for the new comedy, "Our Idiot Brother," don't shine quite as brightly, but they do present the movie as something it's not, namely a screwball comedy.

Far from it.

Those eagerly anticipating such will be disappointed to find it's a gentle, easygoing comedy that intentionally reflects its gentle, easygoing protagonist - a longhaired, eternally optimistic fellow named Ned (Paul Rudd, "I Love You, Man").

Ned hopes for the best in everyone, always giving strangers the benefit of the doubt - an ideal philosophy on paper, sure, but one that lands him in jail after selling weed to a uniformed police officer.

He's released eight months later to find that his trustafarian girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn, "Step Brothers") has left him for another man, kicked him off the organic farm, and stolen his ever-loving golden retriever, who's named Willie Nelson.

With nowhere else to live, although more concerned about being reunited with Willie Nelson, Ned visits his family in New York City, where he ends up rooming with each of his three sisters - aspiring journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks, "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"), housewife and mother Liz (Emily Mortimer, "Shutter Island") and comedienne/free spirit Natalie (Zooey Deschanel, "500 Days of Summer").

Needless to say, his unbridled honesty ends up turning their lives upside down, as each is struggling with her own set of problems.

Like Ned, the story ambles along at a comfortable pace, without a conventional plot to speak of.

There are, however, plenty of indie comedy conventions, and the story often comes across as uneven, particularly in the third act. But the breezy pace and outstanding performances effectively outshine any negative aspects.

Rudd, who usually plays the straight man in comedies, is perfectly cast in the comic role as Ned, who's not necessarily trying to be funny. It's his outlook, observations, approach to situations and the impending results that lead to the laughs. He's simply a likeable character, and it's contagious.

It's this likeability that's so refreshing in a film that would otherwise be your typical dysfunctional family dramedy and, like so, director Jesse Peretz (TV's "Important Things with Demetri Martin") strikes an excellent balance. We've seen these situations before, just not like this.

In that respect, "Our Idiot Brother" is anything but.

"Our Idiot Brother," rated R for sexual content, including nudity, and for language throughout, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 16 or visit

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