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Case Number 22871

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Our Idiot Brother

Anchor Bay // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // December 5th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Paul Pritchard doesn't need to be anyone's brother to be considered an idiot.

Editor's Note

Our review of Our Idiot Brother (Blu-ray), published December 7th, 2011, is also available.

The Charge

Everybody Has One.

Opening Statement

"Nothing like two dudes and a dog making candles."

Facts of the Case

Following his release from prison, Ned (Paul Rudd, Role Models) finds himself living with each of his sisters, but, much to their dismay, Ned's optimism and carefree ways causes frictions in their comfortable lives.

The Evidence

Warning: Our Idiot Brother is not the movie that is being sold to you. Neither the trailers for the film, nor the posters, truly reflects the contents of the movie. That's a shame, as there's a very real risk viewers will react negatively upon realizing this is not the laugh-a-minute R-rated comedy they were expecting. The film opens with a pretty funny sequence where Ned is arrested after being dumb enough to sell weed to a uniformed police officer, which only really serves to further the misconception of what this film is. Quite quickly, though, there's a major tonal shift, which sees Our Idiot Brother reach for something far greater than merely making you laugh; this is a film that wants you to feel, too.

What we quickly learn is that Ned isn't an idiot; he's simply an optimist. As he states during a beautifully written (and acted) scene, "I like to think that if you put your trust out there, I mean if you really give people the benefit of the doubt and see their best intentions, people will rise to the occasion." Unfortunately, as he soon learns, very few people share his outlook, including his own family. Each of his sisters lives a life that revolves solely around their own existence, with each guilty of allowing greed or fear to influence their decisions in life. Ned's honesty is something that frightens them. Throughout the film Ned ends up living with each of his sisters in turn, and without fail each sends him packing when his sincerity takes them out of their comfort zone.

A pleasing aspect of Our Idiot Brother is how the character of Ned is not forced to go on a journey to change the error of his ways. So often films like this see the dimwitted lead come to learn responsibility, usually after royally screwing up. Instead, the smartly written screenplay sees each of Ned's sisters come to realize it is they who are on the wrong path in life, and find that it is they who can learn from their brother.

Our Idiot Brother also features a beautifully realized love story that is surprisingly affecting. Ned has but one love in his life, and that is Willie Nelson, his dog. Ned pines for Willie, but the two are kept apart following the acrimonious breakup of Ned and his girlfriend following his release from prison. Although his attempts to be reunited with Willie are often very funny, the way the film captures the purity of a man's love for his canine companion is amazingly heartfelt.

Director Jesse Peretz (a founding member of The Lemonheads, no less) shows an assured hand, which sees Our Idiot Brother succeed through subtle touches, yet still finds enough of a balance to ensure the comedic aspects of the film are still relevant. Assisting Peretz no end is a cast blessed with talent. Paul Rudd—ever dependable—plays off his naturally endearing charm to infuse Ned with an instant likeability. During the events of the final act, where Ned releases some very real pent up emotion, it is hard not to be touched by the rawness of Rudd's delivery. Taking on the roles of Ned's sisters are Elizabeth Banks (Spider-Man 2), Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer), and Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island). Though it could be argued each of their roles lacks the depths of Ned's, each of these fine actresses is able to bring enough humanity to them that, despite their mistreatment of Ned, we still find ourselves holding no ill will towards them. If I were to have one small gripe with the casting, it would be with the misuse of Steve Coogan. Coogan is fine in the role of Emily Mortimer's conniving husband, but the role is so small that it really doesn't make use of his talent.

The 1.78:1 standard definition anamorphic transfer delivers a sharp-looking picture, blessed with bright colors and excellent levels of detail. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack provides clear dialogue, amongst a spacious mix.

The extras on this single disc release are a little bland. "The Making of Our Idiot Brother" is a formulaic behind-the-scenes featurette, with the cast and crew discussing the film. A selection of deleted and extended scenes is included on the disc, along with a commentary by director Peretz.

Closing Statement

Our Idiot Brother may have made little impact at the box office, but deserves to pick up a following on DVD. All but the most cynical will be won over by its charms. Even if the story itself is slight, the cast ensures this well-meaning and heartwarming film warrants a place in your DVD collection.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 94
Audio: 94
Extras: 60
Acting: 92
Story: 80
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Comedy
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurette


• IMDb

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