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Two Jews on Film: ‘Our Idiot Brother’ review

by Joan Alperin-Schwartz (video by Joan and John Schwartz)

August 26, 2011 | 11:48 am

Paul Rudd in 'Our Idiot Brother'

Paul Rudd is Ned Rochlin, an organic farmer, who sees the good in everyone. So when a policeman comes up to him at a local Farmers Market and begs Ned to sell him some weed, he’s only to happy to oblige. Afterall, Ned felt sorry for the cop, who said he was suffering from job-related stress. Now what does Ned get for this act of compassion? He gets busted and sent to prison, of course. Afterall, this is a comedy…

After a few months in jail, Ned is released for good behavior. When Ned returns home to his farm, where he lived with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and his beloved dog…Willie Nelson, he finds out, that not only does Janet have a a new boyfriend, but she’s keeping, Willie Nelson. This hurts Ned even more than the break-up.

So now that Ned is homeless and dogless, he has no choice but to move back to his childhood home in Long Island, where his sweet mother, Irene (Shirley Knight) welcomes him with open arms.

At the weekly family dinner, we get to meet Ned’s three sisters: First, there’s uber mom, Liz (Emily Mortimer) who is married to the pompous, Dylan (Steve Coogan) a documentary filmmaker with an ostentatiously humanitarian ethos and a tidy trust fund, along with their seven year old son, River (Matthew Mindler) and baby daughter, Echo. This family is so dysfunctional, that it doesn’t even know it.

The middle sister is, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) an ambitious staff writer for Vanity Fair who’s constant companion is her Blackberry.

Finally, there’s baby sister, Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) who’s joined at the hip to her girlfriend Cindy, a down to earth, say it like it is, lawyer.

The sisters and Cindy offer Ned support and invite him to come visit anytime. And it isn’t very long, before Ned takes all three sisters up on their offer, starting with…

Sister Liz, who resides in a very lovely, brownstone in Brooklyn. Ned moves in and all goes well for awhile and then…it doesn’t…

From there, Ned…moves onto Miranda’s and finally, Natalie’s. As Ned is passed from sister to sister, they each find their life thrown into chaos and they all blame Ned for their problems.

Ned always seems to be in the middle of each misunderstanding, oblivious to the way things work in the real world and forever saying or doing, the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time.

And that’s where all the great humor in ‘Our Idiot Brother’ comes from…These wonderful sibling relationships.

The film is like a delicious dessert…The characters are rich, complex with interesting layers…and you wind up caring about each and every one of them…Except maybe for Dylan…who’s a total jerk…but he’s a super, funny jerk, thanks to the excellent performance of Steve Coogan. I absolutely loved this film. The cast is excellent and I gave ‘Our Idiot Brother’ four bagels out of five. Of course, John, the other half of ‘Two Jews On Film’ had a different experience…(for a change)...

Check out our video to see what he thought. Or just go see this really funny, endearing comedy, which opens in theaters, Friday August 26, 2011.

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