Dear Paul Rudd, if you're listening, I am in love with you. I think that you are sweet and charming, and I bet that you do nice things for ladies like make them breakfast in bed and iron their shirts if they are late for really important meetings. Oh, and you're also a good actor that can do just about anything. I almost forgot that part. See how silly I get when we're talking? I could just go on and on…
The previous paragraph appeared in one of many 10-page love letters to Paul Rudd that I routinely mail to his summer home in Chanhassen, Minn. I divulge this information as a way of revealing that I am entirely biased in my reviews of his films. Now that Our Idiot Brother has come out, I have to be honest with you. I loved the movie, mostly because of him. Knowing that, let's continue.
In this film, Ned (Rudd) is one of those folks who smile a lot and believe that people are inherently good. I liked the guy so much, in fact, that I can't even bring myself to call him a dirty hippie, which he pretty much is. Anyway, Ned gets busted for selling marijuana to a uniformed police officer. When he gets released early for being a model prisoner, he learns his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has shacked up with another stoner Billy (TJ Miller) and won't let him move back in, nor will she give him his dog, Willie Nelson. He has no choice but to keep on truckin', staying with his sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer). He constantly mucks up their lives by accidentally putting the spotlight on what morally reprehensible human beings they are.
This story joins the ranks of all those kinds of movies where someone [fill in the adjective or superhuman power] shows up and changes everyone's lives (see also: Hesher, Michael, Powder</i). Whether or not you like that character determines how invested you get, because everyone surrounding them is either a complete jerk or annoyingly helpless. Therefore, if you hate the person who's supposed to turn their lives around, you're adrift in a cinematic sea of nothingness with no life preserver. This week, Paul Rudd haters might be best advised to save their money.
Somehow the script manages to eke out enough new jokes and sweet moments to help me hang in there with Ned, and Elizabeth Banks makes a deliciously despicable Miranda. Also making a memorable appearance with very little screen time is Steve Coogan, one of the world's funniest people that we still don't know how to properly use in films.
(Spoiler follows, but seriously--you know where this movie is going) The only thing that really tarnished this film was the final few moments Ned spends with his family. They've already expressed their regret over being such schmucks, but we have to endure them sitting around the table telling him how amazing he is. It's so lazily written it almost undid the magic of the film for me, and made me like the following scene (the movie's ultimate ending) that much less charming. A close call.