There’s not a whole hell of a lot to say about Our Idiot Brother, a slight character study concerning a carefree stoner who, after spending a few months in the hoosegow for selling a dime bag to a uniformed cop, freeloads at his sisters’ homes; annoying them, helping them, whatever.
Watching this movie, I was reminded more than ever how similar Paul Rudd and Woody Allen’s acting styles are. Woody Allen is the first to admit that he can only play one character (in his case, a death-fearing, sex crazed, rambling neurotic). When it works, it works famously; when it fails, it fails disastrously. Now, I’ve seen every movie Woody Allen has acted in, and I’ve read most ever book written about him and I can confidently tell you that, with very little exception, Allen acts exactly the same, movie to movie, role to role. His acting, he often says, has nothing to do with his performance. It’s in the writing. If the story is there, everything else will fall into place.
That absurdly long digression is meant to draw comparison to Rudd for various reasons. Rudd, quite frankly, only plays one character. He’s the blasé, carefree, happy-go-lucky dude that most anyone would love to share a beer with. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, Rudd has played the same character throughout his entire career. Which is why, much like Woody Allen, it can be difficult to distinguish the characters he plays, and, more importantly, the movies he stars in.
The point is: if Rudd is given the right material, he can shine; but if the story is weak, the movie will sink. Our Idiot Brother falls somewhere in the middle; it’s not a clunker, but you’re not likely to toss around amusing quotes after the fact.
For this role, Rudd sports a disheveled beard and a shaggy wig, but that matters little. He’s Paul Rudd playing Paul Rudd. Luckily, he’s supported by the talents of Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and the particularly impeccable Emily Mortimer, who all clock in worthy screen time as Rudd’s sisters, but ultimately aren’t given nearly enough to do.
Rashida Jones, Adam Scott and Steve Coogan (who starred in this year’s best comedy, which no one saw), all help out, but it’s Rudd’s show, for better or worse.
I enjoyed my time during Our Idiot Brother. Its 90 minute length is breezy, and the script generates a decent amount of laughs along with a few welcome surprises (the standout scene of the film is an extended sequence involving charades), but by the time I nestled onto to my couch to watch Lady Gaga in drag, the flick had all but escaped my memory. B-