My love for Paul Rudd started at a young age when I saw him in Clueless. He's got a certain kind of every-man charisma that makes him relatable in just about any role he takes on. If you take a look back at his career, you'll notice he doesn't really do fantasy or sci-fi. Rudd has made a career out of finding comedy in reality, which for me personally is the best kind of humor. Yes, of course, he's swayed into the gross-out comedy genre at times, but Rudd hits his stride when he's honest and relatable - just as he is as Ned Rochlin in Our Idiot Brother.
The film begins with Ned, the so-called idiot brother in reference, selling pot to a uniformed police officer. After returning from jail, Ned has been kicked to the curb by his former girlfriend Janet (played by Kathryn Hahn, who I've been mistaking for Saturday Night Live alumna Ana Gastyer for years). Ned decides to couch hop between his sisters' homes in New York while trying to get back on his feet.
You can't take the film's title too literally because Ned isn't really an idiot. Sure, he does idiotic things, but most of the time they are in the name of honesty and sincerity. Ned lives his life giving everyone he encounters the benefit of the doubt, bestowing upon them his trust and in turn he speaks the truth. When it comes to his sisters, they see the truth as idiocy and therefore believe their brother is ruining their lives with his honesty. Ned's not an idiot, he's just a guy with a big heart who believes in the good in everyone and wants to help them in any way he can.
Unfortunately, the marketing for Our Idiot Brother has been way off. It seems everyone I've talked to has mixed feelings about whether they want to see the movie or not. Most people say the cast looks great, which it is, but the film itself looks stupid in the trailers. I think the problem is that the marketing relies too heavily on the reputation of Rudd's past film projects to pique interest in Our Idiot Brother. As you'll see in the trailer, and in the film, Ned breaks the fourth wall by asking his nephew if he's seen Anchorman. Don't let the trailer fool you, Our Idiot Brother is a smart comedy.
Our Idiot Brother boasts an incredible cast, particularly among the women. Despite having this amazing cast, the writing for each of the sisters holds back their talent. Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and Liz (Emily Mortimer) each display some form of dishonesty, whether it be lying to themselves or to their lovers. The actresses themselves all did their best with what they were given, but the film's writing didn't allow them to be more than two-dimensional. Though the character Liz was great, I still can't help but question why she's the only sibling with a British accent? Yes, I know Mortimer herself hails from England, but her family in Our Idiot Brother is from Long Island.
There have been very few times in my life when my mom leans over during a movie, which takes place in the present, and says to me, "I love the music!" She did exactly this while watching Our Idiot Brother. With a dog named Willie Nelson, and Ned's easy-going, hippie persona, it's only appropriate the film feature a bevy of songs from the '70s, and, of course, several songs from the dog's namesake.
Ned's fault doesn't come in the form of idiocy, but rather in being too naïve and trusting. Early expectations of the film conjure ideas of an idiot brother that, supposedly, everyone has, but when you actually see the movie, it's not that at all. Rudd makes Ned loveable in his sincerity and funny in his honest, innocent nature. If only we could all see the world through Ned's eyes, perhaps the real world would all be better people.