In the opening moments of Our Idiot Brother, trusting free spirit Ned (Paul Rudd) sells marijuana to a uniformed police officer. After a stint in prison, Ned couch-surfs through the homes of his three sisters (played by indie goddesses Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer), wreaking havoc on their lives while teaching them a bit about love and family. Is this light indie comedy (opening Friday) the perfect antidote to a summer overstuffed with raunchy, sarcastic romps like The Hangover Part II and The Change-Up — or too sweet for its own good?
This is just what the doctor ordered: "In a world of aggravating Little Fockers-level shrillness, or Hangover-style nastiness," says Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune, Our Idiot Brother is "a pretty smart cookie." It's a "sweet and low-key" film that showcases Rudd's broad comedy skills and a talented female ensemble. Essentially, the film is "Chekhov's Three Sisters with an idiot brother, an unofficial cousin of The Dude in The Big Lebowski." What doesn't sound appealing about that?
"Our Idiot Brother puts the fun in dysfunction"
Actually, it's fatally flawed: We get it, says Nathan Rabin at The A.V. Club. Paul Rudd is charming. But seldom has that charm been taxed so relentlessly. In fact, Our Idiot Brother "might as well be called Paul Rudd Is Charming: The Movie." For all of his charisma and likability, the film relies too much on Rudd, creating a strained "one-man show" that ends up being "an afternoon nap of a feel-good comedy."
"Our Idiot Brother"
The talented cast rescues this movie: "Stupid movie, smart casting," says Eleanor Barkhorn at The Atlantic. The plot line reeks of mediocrity, but thankfully, Rudd's portrayal of Ned is "endearing, not grating." Plus, a "hard-charging" Banks, "willfully naive" Mortimer, and "flighty, charming" Deschanel elevate their characters enough to make the audience root for them — "no matter how many idiotic moments the movie offers."
"Our Idiot Brother: Stupid movie, smart casting"