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Stupidity is a Virtue in Our Idiot Brother

Stupidity is a Virtue in <i>Our Idiot Brother</i>

DVD Release Date: November 29, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: August 26, 2011
Rating: R (for sexual content, including nudity, and for language throughout)
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 90 min.
Director: Jesse Peretz
Actors: Paul Rudd, Kathryn Hahn, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones, Hugh Dancy, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan

For free-wheeling organic farmer Ned (Paul Rudd, How Do You Know), ignorance is, indeed, bliss.

Preferring to see our cruel, cynical world through an unfailingly optimistic lens, his good intentions and hakuna matata, hippie sensibilities never fail to get him in trouble. One moment he’s selling weed to a uniformed cop who insisted he had a “really hard week” (cue: orange jumpsuit and an early release for being such an amiable inmate), the next he’s unexpectedly making friends with the celebrity his sister is interviewing for Vanity Fair.

Naturally, the heiress who wouldn’t answer any of Miranda’s (Elizabeth Banks, The Next Three Days) probing questions about a particularly tumultuous relationship, opens up to Ned without even batting an eyelash. Upon hearing about their “private” conversation, Miranda doesn’t have much trouble convincing him to spill the beans, especially since he needs money to move into his own place (cue: impending lawsuit and Miranda losing her job when Ned won’t vouch for the quotes).

See, after Ned’s released from jail, his fellow peace-loving girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn, Revolutionary Road) has not only given him the boot, but let another guy move in. Worse yet, she also fired him from his organic farming gig and won’t let him take his beloved pup, Willie Nelson, who is clearly the love of his life, either. So being brokenhearted with no place to live, no money and no immediate career prospects, he heads back to the city and crashes with his mom.

When regular trips to the craft store with Mom grow boring, however, Ned opts for a change of scenery. Since his sister Liz (Emily Mortimer, Cars 2) said, albeit flippantly, that her family’s front door was always open, Ned decides to take her up on that, much to her dismay. Eventually talking her cad of a husband (Steve Coogan, The Other Guys) into giving him a job on his film set, Ned not only messes things up by teaching these pacifists’ son how to fight, hence ruining the kid’s chances of getting into a prestigious private school, but he actually believes Dylan’s explanation for why he and one of his actresses were doing an “interview” in the nude. As expected, this news doesn’t end up sitting well once it gets back to Miranda or Liz when Miranda informs her that Dylan is having an affair.

Now that he’s kicked out of Liz’s house, Ned bunks up with his other sisters, the aforementioned Miranda and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer), a sarcastic stand-up comedian who lives with her girlfriend (Rashida Jones, The Social Network) but still sleeps with men behind her back.

As you’ve probably already gathered from these descriptions, Ned’s sisters are pretty much varying degrees of hideous and have those pronounced sitcom qualities that include everything from annoying uptight suburbanite (Liz) to pretty but vengeful career opportunist (Miranda) to the promiscuous, won’t-ever-grow-up artist (Natalie).

Even as Ned continues to do one dim-witted thing after the next, and unfortunately, drives each of his sisters away as a result, it’s clear that stupidity is actually a virtue here. While his sisters definitely have it more together in terms of pure street smarts, it’s Ned’s big heart and desire to help people out, no matter the cost, that actually makes him the smarter sibling.

Still, to walk away with that warm and fuzzy takeaway value, you inevitably sit through a whole lot of nonsense, too. While Our Idiot Brother doesn’t push the envelope nearly as far as say, Hall Pass or any of Judd Apatow’s flicks that Rudd has also starred in, there’s plenty of unnecessary sexual content and nudity that’s not exactly in good taste.

Like Little Miss Sunshine and TV shows like Modern Family before it, Our Idiot Brother is a comedy intent on showcasing the complexities (good, bad and otherwise) of familial relationships. And because of Rudd’s likable everyman qualities, one can’t help rooting for this common sense-challenged guy to find his footing in Our Idiot Brother. But whether it’s a must-see? That’s certainly up for debate.


  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking. Ned is put in jail for selling weed to a police officer in uniform. He later admits to his parole officer that he slipped up and used pot again himself.
  • Language/Profanity: Several uses of f---, as-, he--, as-hol-, bitc-, plus instances where God’s name is taken in vain or paired with dam-.
  • Sex/Nudity: Natalie, who is often referred to as the “slut” in the family considers Cindy her partner, but she continues to sleep with men on the side. We see Natalie and Cindy kiss on a couple of occasions. Both Natalie and Ned pose for provocative drawings for Christian (Hugh Dancy). Ned is completely naked, but covers his groin area with his hand. Natalie and Christian make out and then end up having sex offscreen. Ned ends up participating in a threesome (he, a woman and another man are naked together; the woman’s breasts are shown), but Ned eventually decides he can’t go through with it. Dylan (Coogan) is cheating on his wife, Liz, with a dancer in the film he’s making. Ned catches him and Tatiana after they’ve had sex, and we see Dylan naked from a distance, his backside and part of his genitals when he turns around. There’s also some crass discussion of male and female anatomy.
  • Violence: Only of a comedic nature.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.