Stupid is as stupid does
Director: Jesse Peretz ( The Ex) Stars: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones
Smarter than the average doofus
DON’T be put off by the unpromising title – this is no throwaway comedy by any stretch.
Yes, the featured character is not the brightest light bulb in the chandelier of life. But he is also nobody’s fool but his own.
The serene sense of self that has shaped Ned ( Paul Rudd) into the homeless hippie drifter he is today turns out to be quite an achievement, especially when you size up those who look down on him.
They’re either too stressed out or way messed- up, almost beyond repair.
As Our Idiot Brother begins, Ned is being shunted around the rest of his family while he tries to figure out if, at the age of 38, life may have passed him by.
Although Ned does not last long with his boozy mother, he is due to wear out his welcome with all three of his sisters across the length of the film.
Each stay with a sibling forms an enclosed chapter in Ned’s story. Liz ( Emily Mortimer) is a neurotic housewife with a husband ( Steve Coogan) who gives her every reason to be nervous.
Ned briefly lands a job with his brotherin- law, who works as a documentary filmmaker. Ned does the job so well he breaks up Liz’s marriage for good.
Ned’s next port of call is with Miranda ( Elizabeth Banks), a journalist about to land her first big story with Vanity Fair magazine – until it transpires Ned is the only source who can verify her work with the fact- checkers. And his memory is not so hot.
Then there is Natalie ( Zooey Deschanel), a stand- up comedian with no jokes and no following. She is in two minds about whether she is a lesbian.
Ned’s presence in her household is sure to force a decision, one way or the other.
While no one would hail Our Idiot Brother as the most accessible movie comedy of 2011, it is definitely the one most comfortable in its own skin ( even the great Bridesmaids sometimes panicked and lost its way).
Every character in the picture arrives on- screen fully formed and then goes on to change shape in a credible and grounded way.
None more so than Ned, who starts the picture looking for all the world like a lost disciple of Jeff Bridges’ immortal The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
By the closing credits, there is a thing or two The Dude could learn from Ned.