Everybody has one. The sibling who is always just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to getting his life together. For sisters Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), that person is their perennially upbeat brother Ned (Paul Rudd), an erstwhile organic farmer whose willingness to rely on the honesty of mankind is a less-than-optimum strategy for a tidy, trouble-free existence. Ned may be utterly lacking in common sense, but he is their brother and so, after his girlfriend dumps him and boots him off the farm, his sisters once again come to his rescue. As Liz, Miranda and Natalie each take a turn at housing Ned, their brother's unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But as each of their lives begins to unravel, Ned's family comes to realize that maybe, in believing and trusting the people around him, Ned isn't such an idiot after all.
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Ned (Paul Rudd) believes that if you give people the benefit of the doubt and see their best intentions, they will want to rise to the occasion. What a wonderful motto to live by. Certainly there are exceptions, but for the most part, I can get on board with his train of thought. Ned takes it to extremes however when he sells marijuana to a uniformed police officer. To be fair, he did try to just give the weed to the officer; he was forced to name a price. So because of one very evil officer, our idiot heads to jail, but is paroled for good behavior, being named most cooperative inmate 4 months in a row. Once released, he realizes his girlfriend has left him for another version of himself and she refuses to let him take his dog, Willie Nelson, which he loves dearly. He then house jumps from sister to sister, disrupting their not so perfect lives. Ned’s philosophy seems to work well on strangers and friends of his family, but his conversations with his sisters and authority figures go a bit differently. They don’t appreciate honesty as much. Ned’s problems arise because his sisters wish for him to put their needs ahead of those who actually treat Ned as he wants to be treated. He first intrudes on Liz (Emily Mortimer) and her husband (Steve Coogan from The Trip), destroying their son by allowing him to watch too many “screens” and learn martial arts instead of letting him grow to be the rebellious teen they must so badly want for him to become. Then he stays with Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) who is a wannabe writer and will do anything to get a story. She is also a bit needy and demanding. He manages to really mess things up for her writing career; in truth, she never had much of one without him. It’s off to mess up Natalie’s (Zooey Deschanel) life next, she’s a struggling comedienne. Her apartment is a communal type; I believe Ned made eight people under her roof. She is battling her feelings for her lesbian lover and a male artist. These characters are well crafted; there aren’t many stereotypical roles in the film. It’s even careful to show some minor hippie characteristics that have been passed down from Ned’s mother to his sisters, Liz and Nat especially. Our Idiot Brother is a bit uneven at times, it very well could have been an indie-type dramedy, but in the end it’s just a somewhat offbeat comedy. Our Idiot Brother isn’t hysterical, but has a certain tongue-in-cheek slyness that is undeniable. The film is at its best when Ned’s trustworthiness leads to his complete confusion. This is Paul Rudd’s film, and the ensemble does him justice. Our Idiot Brother is charming and enjoyable; the ending feels a bit like a sell out, however, and leaves plenty of room for a sequel, My Idiot Boyfriend perhaps, or Our Idiot Dogs. Bottom line, Paul Rudd makes another (thought not his best) fresh comedy.