September 15, 2011
Director: Jesse Peretz
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel
Release Date: August 26, 2011
The “Hippie” Uncle Buck
There have been plenty of movies about deadbeat family members, but it’s hard to imagine that any of them have been quite as lovable as Ned (Paul Rudd). Okay, so maybe John Candy as Uncle Buck comes close, but Ned is on par with “The Dude”—he’s a younger, infinitely more naive version of the Jeff Bridges persona that has become the stuff of cult legend.
The guy’s just so darn nice—it’s hard to fault him for any of the bone-headed decisions that land him in jail or shuffling between the homes of each of his three sisters. Be that as it may, there’s not really much all that original about the plot itself. If someone were to “inject” the aforementioned Uncle Buck with a healthy dose of indie sensibility, he’d end up with something pretty close to Our Idiot Brother. The latter is smarter than the former—and certainly more grounded in real world drama—but it doesn’t really do anything all that innovative.
What elevates the movie above its contemporaries is the inclusion of just the sort of deadpan humor that we see from Rudd in previous Apatow films. Though it’s guilty of “beating a dead horse” in terms of the plot, the interplay between its personable cast members is undeniably infectious. Zooey Deschanel is her usual quirky self, though she’s more vulnerable to the issues confronted by grown-ups here than in just about anything else I’ve seen her in. Each of the remaining “sisters” have their trademark personalities, and they’re fleshed out just enough to lend some credibility to the levels of patience they’re willing to exercise when in the present of their dumbly honest male sibling.
Again, there’s nothing notably fresh about Our Idiot Brother, but it’s stars do such an admirable job of breathing life into the tired material that it’s hard not to like. While a rousing barn-burner-of-a-movie that “changes the rules” of the genre would have been nice, this is a perfectly acceptable little flick that makes for a pleasing hour and a half.
out of 5