Our Idiot Brother is not a great Paul Rudd movie, like Wet Hot American Summer or Role Models. Instead, it's a good movie that probably would've sucked had Paul Rudd not brought his particular brand of brilliance to the proceedings.
Rudd shines as stoner-simpleton Ned, who is briefly imprisoned at the beginning of the film after trying to sell pot to a uniformed police officer. Rudd's naïve charm in the first few minutes alone makes the movie worth seeing.
The movie loses a little steam when Rudd starts hanging around with his sisters. Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a tense wannabe journalist who brings Ned along for an interview that goes dreadfully bad. While Miranda's job troubles don't make for hypnotic filmmaking, her strange relationship with a man in her building (the always-funny Adam Scott) is good enough to balance her story out.
Then there's Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), yet another movie lesbian who winds up having sex with a man. In movies, heterosexual males stand a pretty darned good chance with lesbians. Come on, boys: Head out to the local lesbian bar, and make things happen like they do in these silly movies! You'll get kicked in the balls, guaranteed.
Finally, there's Liz (Emily Mortimer), the straight-laced mom whose husband (Steve Coogan) is an ignorant asshole. Rudd's Ned spends a lot of time at Liz's house, where he develops a funny relationship with their son. They re-enact the Cato/Inspector Clouseau moments from The Pink Panther, sometimes resulting in broken fingers.
Rudd drifts through all of this soap-opera stuff with ease, and he makes numerous moments giggle-worthy. His relationships with his parole officer and his dog (named Willie Nelson) are far funnier than his interactions with his family. The level of Jed's stupidity is actually sort of endearing, reminding me of the character James Franco played in Pineapple Express. Ned is a lovable dope of a man.
Of course, all of the various predicaments get tied up with a pretty little bow by film's end, with Ned quite predictably being the smartest guy in his whole family, even if his bloodstream is chock-full of THC. The film is rather mundane, but the laughs come at a fairly consistent rate ... especially if your bloodstream is full of THC (and s'mores!) while watching it.
Deschanel gets a laugh or two, even if she is hamstrung by an alarmingly stereotypical role. While Banks is an actress I usually enjoy, and it's super-cool to see Wet Hot and Role Models alums Banks and Rudd exchanging lines again, her character is a little overdone and annoying. Coogan is good at playing an unspeakable bastard, and Mortimer is just sort of there.
One actor who does steal scenes is T.J. Miller, as Billy, the equally stoned biodynamic farmer who shacks up with Ned's girlfriend (the talented Kathryn Hahn, as funny here as she was in Step Brothers) while he's in custody. He's 10 times as naïve as Ned, and everything he says in this film is funny. Miller has to be one of the more under-appreciated comic actors out there right now. Give this boy a killer sitcom or a movie franchise.
If you are making a list of future rentals (let's face it, nobody is going to theaters to see this), Our Idiot Brother is better than Bad Teacher and The Change-Up, but not as good as Bridesmaids or Horrible Bosses. They've all been released within mere months of each other, so expect them to pop up at Casa Video soon.