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Friday, 10 March 2017

Our Idiot Brother (2011)

A long time ago we kept asking ourselves "What was the name of that 'nice' film we saw?" And we never did quite work out what movie we were thinking of. Well, here's another picture that falls into that category of niceness -- and I hope I will continue to remember it. Which is pretty good since I wasn't really aware of the film's existence before its recent showing on FilmFour . Since it is now some six years old, it's yet another flick that fell through the cracks without my realising it.

It's a delightful, good-natured flick which gives lightweight comic actor Paul Rudd a rare leading role -- long before he got his Ant-Man gig. He is not so much the 'idiot' of the title, but rather a simple soul, quite immune to the bullshit of the world -- na├»ve and trusting. On his release from jail, having been stitched up for selling weed to a uniformed cop (he was such a nice guy that he couldn't resist the cop's doleful pleading), he is at a loose end. He can't go back to his former girlfriend and her organic farm since she has replaced him in her affections with another gormless helper. Worse still she will not return his beloved pooch, Willie Nelson, despite never having liked the mutt in the first place.

He doesn't want to live with his mother, so it's up to his three sisters to find him a bunk and some work. The three are played by high-flying magazine writer Elizabeth Banks (looking remarkably like Parker Posey here), bisexual free spirit Zooey Deschanel, and yuppie Emily Mortimer who is in thrall to her horribly pretentious hubby played by the ever unlikeable Steve Coogan. While all three want to help poor Ned, they are not prepared for the disruption he will bring to their safe little lives. He won't lie for Banks to authorise a story she hopes to flog, where the info was given to him in confidence. He blurts out to Deschanel's girlfriend (Rashida Jones) that they are soon to be parents after his sister's quickie shag with a pompous artist. He 'corrupts' Mortimer and Coogan's cocooned son by introducing him to boyish pastimes and dooms their tenuous marriage by mentioning that Coogan conducts his interviews in the nude with the ballerina that he is documenting. All of this is revealed without malice, simple facts that he has observed.

When he tells his sympathetic parole office that he has inadvertently smoked a reefer, the helpful officer replies "I didn't hear you say that". So innocent little Neddy repeats it, landing himself back in jail for breaking parole. The family finally gather round their 'idiot brother' but he doesn't want to leave his simple comfy life in jail -- at least not until the three sisters liberate Willie Nelson giving Ned a new lease on life. We last see him living a happy, hippy existence out in the countryside, making candles with his ex's now-ex boyfriend, with good old Willie in earshot. In truth it is the three sisters who are idiots, who have not realised what a breath of fresh air and a treasure their brother really is -- he's just too good for our modern selfish world. This definitely is a 'nice' movie to remember.    
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