Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Movie Review - 'Our Idiot Brother'

Paul Rudd's titular character Ned in Our Idiot Brother is the guy that would typically irritate me to the point of loathing. He is the lazy, hippie, docile, bearded, long haired, organic veg farming, candle making slacker type. You can tell just from looking at the banner above. However, I read some good reviews back when Our Idiot Brother premiered at Sundance early this year, and decided to give it a go anyway. Well, I loved his character. In fact, he made me want to be a better person, which is kind-of disturbing since he looks and acts a bit like a modern day Jesus figure. Is religion finding a way in? I don't think so, but hit the jump to read my review of Our Idiot Brother


Ned is a dude, described above, who grows organic vegetables and whose family is made up of three sisters: Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Liz (Emily Mortimer); and a permanently tipsy mother (Shirley Knight). He gets busted selling weed to a police officer (under the most ridiculous yet forgivable circumstances), and goes to jail for a bit. He gets released, and proceeds to inflict his inherent selflessness on his family while trying to find his feet again. And, since people are by their very nature selfish, competitive, jealous and deceitful, mild to moderate chaos ensues.

After watching the film, I read a review which was harshly critical of aforesaid selfishness, competitiveness, jealousy and deceit (in this film embodied by Ned's three sisters and others), and where the reviewer even went so far as to call the film misogynist. One would think he has a point, but I did not see it as misogynist at all. The mere fact that Ned only had sisters does not mean the director was targeting women. Also, the qualities exhibited by their characters are what it means to be human in the first place. I did not hate them for it, and must confess, I can identify with some of their situations. We do stupid things, we lie, we turn a blind eye and we stick our heads in the sand when it suits us. In fact, the script was written by Evgenia Peretz, a woman and sister of director Jesse Peretz. So, surely the perception of intentional misogyny should bow to what I saw as a realistic depiction of sibling relationships and human nature? Please, come down from your tower and place yourself in their shoes for a bit.

Enough with the thematic mumbo jumbo. Our Idiot Brother was damn funny, more often than not due to the fabulous cast, which operated in divided pairs. Paul Rudd's Ned (the guy we should all aspire to be more like) and his dog Willie Nelson are kept apart by his hippie ex Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and (to a lesser extent) her new BF Billy (TJ Miller); sexually liberal Natalie and goggle sporting girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones) are keeping secrets; journalist Miranda and neighbour Jeremy (Adam Scott) are keeping quiet; and Liz and asshole husband Dylan (Steve Coogan) keep living a lie. These are all things that should never be kept, and in some way or another, they all need help. As to how it goes down, watch the movie and see. Shit, I just got into thematic mumbo jumbo again! Sorry.

Anyway, Our Idiot Brother is a sweet and heartwarming comedy, complete with great performances, awkward sexual experiences and lessons for the whole family.

8 out of 10

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