Sneak Peek: Our Idiot Brother (***1/2 out of 5)

Sneak Peek: Our Idiot Brother (***1/2 out of 5)

Those who doubt Paul Rudd's ability to charm an audience into submission have their hands full with his latest, Our Idiot Brother.  Though the movie is a strictly by-the-numbers indie comedy, Rudd and his fellow castmates prove undeniably likeable and frequently hilarious.  What it lacks in surprise or inventiveness, it makes up for in effectiveness by employing a relaxed, unforced tone and light comedic touch.

Rudd stars as the titular brother Ned, who is more of a hippie optimist than idiot.  At the start of the film, he's shown going to jail after selling pot to a uniformed police officer.   3 months later, Ned is released and heads home to find his girlfriend has broken up with him and moved on with a real idiot (a very funny TJ Miller).  With nowhere else to go, Ned jumps around from one sister's home to another.  The three sisters are perfectly played by Elizabeth Banks (uptight workaholic), Zooey Deschanel (free-spirited bisexual), and Emily Mortimer (meek housewife).  Ned ends up throwing each of their lives into turmoil, ultimately for the better.

The cast of Our Idiot Brother is the real selling point here.  Rudd continues to prove he's the go-to guy for modern comedy, and this is another solid entry in his canon.  It may not have the same propensity for laughs as say, Anchorman, Knocked Up, Role Models, or I Love You, Man, but it gives Rudd a chance to stretch some dramatic muscles in ways those other films didn't.  No supporting role is wasted either - apart from the trifecta of sisters, other great actors pop in and contribute, like Adam Scott, Hugh Dancy, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, and Katie Aselton.

My favorite scenes are probably those between Ned and his parole officer, Omar (Sterling K. Brown, really funny in a no-nonsense kind of way) and those with Rudd and TJ Miller.  The laughs are spaced out pretty evenly, with the funniest scene probably coming last, as Rudd and Miller discuss marketing ideas for their new organic candle shop.  "Trust me" - you just have to see it.  Our Idiot Brother won't go down as the funniest comedy of the summer (I still like Horrible Bosses best), but it does a nice job of capturing the same kind of honest, irreverent comedic energy that made Little Miss Sunshine such a hit with audiences back in '06.


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