Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peretzes/Schisgal's OUR IDIOT BROTHER: Paul Rudd & ensemble shine in sweet film

"It's a sweet little movie" probably sounds like the kiss of death for a small independent film. That's unfair in this case because, for all its raunch  (there's a lot of it) and unpleasant family dynamics, OUR IDIOT BROTHER also delivers a wealth of good humor, charm, excellent performances from its ensemble cast, and another terrific one from the movie's linchpin Paul Rudd. What a smart and appealing actor this guy is!

The movie's opening is loose, easy and genuine, and the scene between Rudd's character, Ned, and a local policeman is just about perfect in terms of acting and writing, while this initial give-and-take lays out Rudd's character to a tee. Whatever else happens in the film, this scene acts as a touchstone for who Ned is (as well as a very canny use of police entrapment).

Directed by Jesse Perretz (shown at left) and written by David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz, the film details a truckload of extremely passive-aggressive family antics and how the lead character of our "brother" impacts on this. In the process, family "values" get a good working over. (There is actually a fine example of active-aggressive in the movie, too. She is played by Kathryn Hahn, shown above, and she gives the film an extra energy jolt of anger whenever she appears -- which is just often to wake up the movie's pleasant demeanor.

Ned's sisters are played by a bevy of talented and smart beauties: Elizabeth Banks (above, left), Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer (above, right), and their significant others, are played respectively by Adam Scott, Rashida Jones and Steve Coogan (below). Ensembles don't come much more talented than this, and each actor brings home the bacon.

With all the characters heavily into denial -- including brother Ned to some extent -- it takes awhile to sort it all out. (Not too long, though: the film runs only 90 minutes).  In the process, we learn, yet again, that all is finally right with the world and there's a lid for every pot. While this discovery is hardly new and clearly not true, the filmmakers make it seem so, and getting there proves great, good fun. Mr. Rudd adds yet another fine role to his resume -- in fact, along with his great work in the under-seen (Two Days), this is one of his best.

Our Idiot Brother opens on Friday, August 26. Click here, here or here to see where the film is playing and perhaps procure tickets.


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