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My Idiot Brother Review From the Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Snapshot: My Idiot Brother

I've been excited about My Idiot Brother pretty much since the full cast was announced back in June, so catching the film's premiere at Sundance this weekend was a huge treat. The movie follows Paul Rudd as an unflappable optimist whose devotion to honesty gets him into one sticky situation after another, particularly when he starts couch hopping between his three sisters. Though I had already mentally set the bar pretty high, I was pleased to find a comedy that's smart, fresh, and often very funny. (Apparently I wasn't the only one: the film was snatched up by the Weinstein Company just hours after the premiere.)

  • Who's behind it? Director Jesse Peretz has compiled a dream cast of characters headlined by Paul Rudd and including Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Rashida Jones, Steve Coogan, and Adam Scott.
  • What's it about? Rudd plays Ned, a free-spirited farmer (read: crunchy hippie), whose positive attitude and unyielding faith in the people around him often gets in the way of his sense of judgment. Ned is arrested for selling marijuana to a police officer (who claimed he was having a bad week and in need of a pick-me-up), and is released from prison eight months later. When his girlfriend kicks him off their farm, Ned is shuttled around between his mother and three sisters where he unintentionally meddles in each of their own busy lives and personal issues.

For my thoughts on the film, just keep reading.

  • What did I think? With a title like My Idiot Brother, I was expecting more over-the-top shenanigans and slapstick from Rudd's Ned, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much heart is packed into the film. In fact, it's not that Ned is dim-witted (at least not for the most part) — it's really Ned's brain-to-mouth filter (or lack thereof) that gets him into trouble. Like so many real-life families, his sisters end up using Ned as a scapegoat for their own personal problems. That said, the dynamic between the siblings — Rudd, Deschanel, Banks, and Mortimer — is honest without overdosing on cheesy or forced family moments, and many of the laughs come from the conflict between Ned and his more cynical sisters. Rudd easily fills Ned shoes (and long hair, and beard), and brings just the right amount of innocence to keep Ned from being a total buffoon. His actions may be frustrating to watch (and believe me, you'll be practically yelling at the screen at times), but he's so sincere that you can't help but root for him.
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