Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Sundance Review | Paul Rudd Outshines Mediocrity in "My Idiot Brother"

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire January 25, 2011 at 4:46AM

Hiding behind a shaggy beard and a stoner grin, Paul Rudd plays an amusingly oblivious shrub in "My Idiot Brother," but the movie can't keep up with his comic momentum. Rudd portrays Ned Rochlin, a happy-go-luck organic farmer abruptly busted for selling pot to a police officer. Kicked out of his home by his moody ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn), Ned loses possession of his faithful dog and winds up crashing at his mom's house. There, he seeks help from his three sisters, played by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer. Director Jesse Peretz guides them through an innocuous, mostly unmemorable series of events in which Ned introduces added dramas to each of their lives. The only reason to keep watching is Rudd's investment in the business of being funny.
2

Hiding behind a shaggy beard and a stoner grin, Paul Rudd plays an amusingly oblivious shrub in "My Idiot Brother," but the movie can't keep up with his comic momentum. Rudd portrays Ned Rochlin, a happy-go-luck organic farmer abruptly busted for selling pot to a police officer. Kicked out of his home by his moody ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn), Ned loses possession of his faithful dog and winds up crashing at his mom's house. There, he seeks help from his three sisters, played by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer. Director Jesse Peretz guides them through an innocuous, mostly unmemorable series of events in which Ned introduces added dramas to each of their lives. The only reason to keep watching is Rudd's investment in the business of being funny.

The crux of the story finds Ned drifting from one sister's home to another, vaguely attempting to find a job but mostly just hanging around. Spending time with his ostensibly settled suburban sister Liz (Mortimer), he ends up corrupting her spoiled seven-year-old son and inadvertently discovering the adulterous behavior of her documentarian husband (Steve Coogan). Ned's antics impact lesbian sister Natalie (Deschanel) as well, when he accidentally lets loose about her heterosexual trysts to her faithful partner (Rashida Jones). With journalist sister Miranda (Banks), Ned accidentally throws her job into jeopardy.

After each of these incidents, Ned finds himself alienated by his kin and fed up with the way he has been viewed as a failure. A few developments later and the stage is set for reconciliation. Intermittently engaging, "My Idiot Brother" proceeds through several lackluster scenarios until its overly neat ending, a resoundingly uninventive setup that asks very little of its talented ensemble cast that hasn't been hashed out a million times before. The end result feels, by and large, quite tolerable -- but simply humming along isn't enough to justify a full-length feature. In fact, the name and the premise of "My Idiot Brother" would work better for a sitcom, or maybe several of them.

Rudd's commitment to Ned's free-spirited behavior takes his performative abilities in an intriguing direction, departing from the everyday joe he's embodied in recent mainstream comedies. Peretz gives Rudd plenty of opportunities to display his range, but not enough substance to the scenario for the character to stand on firm ground. Going through the usual motions, "My Idiot Brother" is about as oblivious as Ned.

HOW WILL IT PLAY? Snatched up by The Weinstein Company for several million dollars after its world premiere at Sundance, the movie's diverse star power means it will be positioned as having strong commercial appeal. But no trailer could possibly sell it as anything other than a conventional, middle-of-the-road comedy, so even a strong opening won't sustain it for very long.

criticWIRE grade: C+

This article is related to: Reviews, Our Idiot Brother






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More