It’s taken a long time for Our Idiot Brother to reach the UK. It was released in the US just over two years ago, but it’s only now making it onto DVD and Blu-ray. Considering the awesome cast, it might seem surprising it’s taken so long, but after watching the slightly underwhelming film I can understand why nobody felt in too much of a rush.
Paul Rudd plays the titular idiot, Ned, who lives on an organic farm with his girlfriend, but gets busted and locked up for selling pot to a uniformed police officer. After being let out of prison, he discovers his girlfriend has taken up with another man and won’t allow him back on the farm. Ned’s not even allowed to take his beloved dog, Willie Nelson.
Instead he has to rely on his family, initially moving in with his mother before moving on to disrupt the lives of his three sisters, who undoubtedly do view their man-child brother as an idiot, especially as he has no filter and says things he really ought to keep quiet about. Inevitably he causes massive disruption in their lives, such as causing ructions for Liz (Emily Mortimer) when Ned bring his freeform ways into her son’s life and discovers her hubby (Steve Coogan) may be stepping out with another woman. There’s also the uptight Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), who doesn’t want Ned around as she tries to further her journalism career, while his loudmouth tendencies also threaten the relationship between Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and her girlfriend (Rashida Jones).
It’s a fairly standard idea for an indie comedy, but it doesn’t quite work being neither funny nor smart enough to be a real crowd-pleaser. The film wants to present Ned as an innocent, whose constant putting of his foot is his mouth is naively charming. However much of the time Ned simply comes across as a thoughtless klutz, who might expose the problems in his sisters’ lives, but does so more by crass accident than design.
This might have been okay of the film had managed to find a way to bring everything together in the end, but it almost feels like the conclusion to a slightly different film, resolving issues that aren’t really what the rest of the film has been about. Indeed, it conclusion that Ned is essentially the same as having a pet dog is a bit dumb.
It’s a shame, Our Idiot Brother it really has a great cast. Along with the people mentioned above, there’s Hugh Dancy, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, T.J. Miller and Shirley Knight. It’s an incredible ensemble, but pretty much everyone has been a lot better elsewhere, partly because they’re not given that much to work with. You can understand why they were drawn to the roles, as on the surface they seem like interesting characters, but the script barely scratches the surface of them, leaving the actors little room to manoeuvre.
Overall Verdict: Black Rock is okay, but merely bumbles along being neither particularly hilarious nor interesting. It has an amazing cast but with a script that doesn’t quite know what it’s about, Out Idiot Brother doesn’t really work.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac