Hey, man, I don’t have any problem with your movie. It’s cool that you’re out there doing what you do, really making things, you know? I really dug that part at the end, when—oh, you don’t want me talking about the end? That’s cool, I’m sorry. I just didn’t think we had a lot else to talk about. Um, do you think I could get, like, $5 of my $10 back? I owe this dude some money, and this movie was worth about $5, right?
Mimicry aside, Our Idiot Brother is an uncommonly affable little movie, a very indie teasing of latter-day hippies. A lot of it feels like a Portlandia sketch—specifically the organic farm bit, but slightly less funny—and I’m honestly grateful it wasn’t filmed here; that would have been a blow of stereotyping from which we’d never recover. As it stands, Our Idiot Brother is set in New York City and upstate, though it could be anywhere where young people are bewildered by having to be grown-ups. Paul Rudd plays the title character, a holy fool with a produce stand who goes to visit his sisters—Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel—who are a far sight more fouled up than he is, even if they weren’t recently jailed for selling weed to a uniformed cop. (The officer “just seemed really sad,” Rudd explains.)
Rudd’s performance is
oddly flat: It may be that playing such a beatific innocent saps the
acidity that gives him a lot of his comic appeal. None of the other
family members is especially memorable either—Deschanel comes closest,
though that’s just because she’s unconvincingly cast as a bisexual with
boundless erotic appetite. Mostly what registers is that these are a lot
of notably good-looking people whose problems could be solved by
admitting how easy they have it. Directed by Jesse Peretz from a script
co-written by his sister Evgenia, Our Idiot Brother plays like a diluted Nicole Holofcener film (even down to a less horrific re-staging of the scene from Lovely & Amazing
in which Mortimer exposes her naked body to the critique of her lover)
without the cognizance and dissection of privilege. What’s left is
niceness, which isn’t really a quality or a flaw. It just is, man. R.
55 SEE IT: Our Idiot Brother opens Friday at Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cinetopia Mill Plain, Cornelius, Oak Grove, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen, Fox Tower, Hilltop, Lloyd Center, Sherwood, Tigard, Wilsonville and Sandy.