As a jaded film critic, I have a predilection towards disdain for anything that is charming or cute. Some may say that that is a personal choice and is easily correctable. However, when Hollywood consistently wraps up the same turd in a different package time and time again and tries to pass it off as fresh or likable simply because of who is starring in it, that's when cynicism begins to take over. Case in point, Our Idiot Brother.
Now, that opening paragraph may make it sound like Our Idiot Brother was just another in a long line of terrible, rehashed dreck. But in actuality, this movie is fantastic. Make no mistake, this movie is charming and cute almost to a fault but the sharp writing and phenomenal cast make Our Idiot Brother a cut above the rest. Playing the title character is Paul Rudd, an irrepressibly likable actor who makes (for the most part) smart choices when it comes to movies. This film is no different as he portrays Ned, a relentlessly optimistic hippy who never lets life get him down. As Monty Python sings, he's always looking on the bright side of life. After a brief stint in jail for selling pot to a uniformed police officer (seriously) he bounces from house to house occupied by his three sisters; Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and Liz (Emily Mortimer). Although all the performances in this movie are great, Rudd single-handedly makes this movie as good as it is. Again, it's charming, cute and predictable but with Rudd leading, Our Idiot Brother is a completely pleasant experience.
Banks, Deschanel and Mortimer are all excellent as Ned's siblings who each have completely different personalities and approaches to life. Each one is a good actress in their own rite and here they play off each other well in the scenes they share together. In the scenes they share with Rudd, he makes them better as well (another way Rudd's involvement improves this movie). Elsewhere, Steve Coogan plays Dylan, the husband of Liz. Coogan's role is a small one but he brings the same dry wit he did in Tropic Thunder and The Other Guys. Rashida Jones plays Cindy, Natalie's life partner. Jones has proven herself to be a great comedic and dramatic actress over the last few years and she gets to display both skills in Our Idiot Brother.
So while there are things about Our Idiot Brother that would ordinarily make it unlikable, the cast (Rudd especially) make it a great movie. Director Jesse Peretz and screenwriters Evgenia Peretz and Davis Schisgall also deserve credit for making a heartwarming movie that aims right for the gooey center of your heart and while you know you should be annoyed by this, you can't help but enjoy it the entire time. Definitely head to the Cinemagics in Hooksett or Merrimack to check this one out.