All-star cast makes comedy worthwhile

Features Editor Charlotte Kyle writes the movie reviews.

I heard two things about “Our Idiot Brother” before I ever saw a trailer or read a synopsis of the film.

One:?It’s funny. As a fan of comedy I took this to be a good sign.

Two: It has a great cast. As a TV?fan I was sold by the casting of “Parks and Recreation” stars Rashida Jones and Adam Scott.?As a female I was equally sold by Paul Rudd.

Admittedly Rudd doesn’t look quite as gorgeous as he has in the past, but he manages to rock the long hair and beard better than I?imagined he would.

Superficial factors aside, “Our Idiot Brother” was not half-bad. Both of the things I?heard were true.

In the film Rudd plays Ned, an organic farmer who goes to jail after selling weed to a uniformed officer.

Ned is not the sharpest tool in the shed, though his stupidity is more a mixture of naivete and faith in the human race.

After Ned is released from jail he finds his girlfriend has a new man and, in their separation, is keeping the dog, Willie Nelson.

Ned turns to his family, specifically sisters Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks)?and Liz (Emily Mortimer), for support as he tries to earn enough money to move back to the goat farm where his ex lives.

Based on the trailers I?assumed Ned was the wacky outsider of the family, but his sisters are not exactly normal.

Natalie is a struggling comedienne who finds herself torn between her girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones) and artist Christian?(Hugh Dancy).

Miranda’s uptight and bossy personality causes conflicts in her friendship with neighbor Jeremy (Adam Scott) and she is stressed out about her first big story for “Vanity Fair.”

Meanwhile Liz is raising two kids while her director husband (Steve Coogan) gets a little too close to his film’s subject.

With so many fantastic actors and interesting characters it is easy for plots to get lost in the shuffle. With a runtime of an hour-and-a-half it is impossible to flesh out everyone’s stories. Ned is, of course, the focus but he tends to share most of his screentime with Liz and her family.

In fact, the only character Ned has consistently pleasant interactions with is Liz’s son, River (Matthew Mindler).

While the character is cliche – the kid who is raised to play weird instruments, dance and is not allowed to have sugar or watch TV?– Mindler plays the role refreshingly well. As he longs for a world of karate and cupcakes I?believe this kid is truly living a sheltered, unhappy life.

Ned exists to show him funny movies and to play games. He teaches the kid that there is more to life than what they know, and he should be doing what makes him happy.

This is what Ned teaches everyone, along with lessons of loving unconditionally and having faith in the good of the world.

Again, cliche, but the movie finds a way to make it work.

“Our Idiot Brother”?was not as laugh-out-loud funny as I?expected it to be. It had more sweet than slapstick and more heart than hilarious.

The funny moments it did have, however, are worth noting. Scenes between Ned, his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend are particularly good.

There is a natural beat between the characters where it feels like most of the lines were improvised. With this cast I?would not be surprised if this were true.

Some moments which were supposed to be funny felt uncomfortable and awkward.

The silence lasted a little too long, or the exchange continued for two lines too long. These awkward moments are far and few between but, when they do happen, they stand out.

Overall the movie has an excellent cast and tells a fairly interesting story. It might not be your favorite Paul Rudd film but it was something different for him and it works.

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