‘Our Idiot Brother’: The Reviews Are In!

Paul Rudd, in the title role, walks away with much of the critics' praise in this ensemble comedy.

Even with strong performances from the ensemble cast in “Our Idiot Brother,” the Sundance darling is being heralded as Paul Rudd’s movie. Reviews for the comedy, which opened on Friday (August 25), are heralding Rudd’s turn as one of the best of his career. And although the response has been generally positive, critics did take issue with some of the other idiotic parts of the movie.

Some found the script’s approach to the characters too formulaic: Rudd’s character might be an idiot, but he is actually a commendable guy when compared to his three jaded sisters, his hippie ex-girlfriend and his wine-drinking mother. Others thought the movie was a bit unconvincing despite its well-meaning message. Still, the jump from “My Idiot Brother” at Sundance to “Our Idiot Brother” in wide-release seems to imply a more inclusive element to the film that resounded with critics.

So will “Our Idiot Brother” charm you? Here’s what the critics had to say:

The Idiot Brother
“Though the ensemble cast is uniformly strong, this is Rudd’s film. His inherent likability and genial manner are ideal for the character. He plays laid-back especially well. (His aging surfer dude in ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ was a variation on Ned.) Watching Rudd bring dimension to what could have been a clownish caricature is the best reason to see this good-natured family comedy. ‘Our Idiot Brother’ is as irresistible and easy to love as a golden retriever.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Characters
“Peeking out from a curtain of shaggy hair and a beard, Rudd invests Ned with every ounce of the effusive, natural warmth that has become his trademark. And like so many movies in his career, he makes Our Idiot Brother much more tolerable than it deserves to be. Screenwriters Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall play up Ned’s innocence by making his sisters thoroughly unappealing: Emily Mortimer plays a dowdy, sad-sack hausfrau married to a pompous documentarian (played with withering contempt by Steve Coogan); Elizabeth Banks flails in a misguided brunet pageboy as a ruthless Vanity Fair reporter; and Zooey Deschanel lends spaced-out self-absorption to a lesbian tempted by a similarly navel-gazing male artist.” — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

The Script
“You want to laugh at this, except the movie is forcing you to do so. Adultery and dysfunction are cute problems. Deschanel’s character shares a loft with her girlfriend (Rashida Jones, underutilized again and still the best thing here) and a gang of bohemians who don’t get up to anything interesting. Though Deschanel’s compulsion to play another Quirky Performance Artist is satisfied. Banks (shrill careerist) and Mortimer (neurotic wimp) conform to type, too. Ned makes their relationships harder than they already appear to be. He’s a gimmick, and yet without him the movie is just Hanna-Barbera and Her Sisters. Either way, it’s all emotionally counterfeit, and that bogusness infects the comedy.” — Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe

The Direction
“Efficiently directed by Jesse Peretz, (Ms. Peretz’s brother, evidently quite capable), Our Idiot Brother is a thin, unconvincing movie made likable by the charm and skill of its cast and by a script (by Ms. Peretz and her husband, David Schisgall) peppered with wit and insight. … A handful of scenes — a visit to a cultish self-help seminar, a family game of charades with Mom (Shirley Knight), a profile interview gone off the rails — are sharp, funny and surprising. But the filmmakers mostly look for humor in obvious, picked-over places. Can we please have a moratorium on private-school interviews? Like yoga classes (which this movie blessedly leaves alone), they are hard in real life and suspiciously easy in movies.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

The Final Word
” My Idiot Brother might have made Ned more of a symbol and less of a person. Where the filmmakers, and Mr. Rudd, go right is making him such a round and sympathetic figure, rather than the desperate, pathetic and/or slapstick character he might have been in different hands. Our Idiot Brother — not My or Your or Their idiot brother — is goofily funny, and silly, and in many ways follows the currents of contemporary comedy into the gulf stream of inanity. And yet Ned turns out to be a strangely moving figure, a comic foil worthy of affection, perhaps even respect.” — John Anderson, The Wall Street Journal

Check out everything we’ve got on “Our Idiot Brother.”

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