Couch Surfing Paul Rudd Makes His Siblings Better People in "Our Idiot Brother"

Paul Rudd is an idiot.
Nicole Rivelli

In Our Idiot Brother, Paul Rudd plays Ned, an upstate New York version of "The Dude" Lebowski who is "entrapped" into selling pot to a uniformed police officer and swiftly sent to jail. Post-prison, Ned discovers that his longterm girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has taken up with a new dude, rendering Ned homeless and estranged from his beloved dog. Determined to reunite with the pooch but first needing to get back on his feet, Ned surfs the couches of his three female family members: dowdy mom Liz (Emily Mortimer) and her pompous sleazebag husband (Steve Coogan); Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), a high-maintenance, low-scruples would-be glossy magazine reporter; and bi-curious hipster Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), who shares a loft with lawyer girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones, in a costume department's ludicrous notion of Williamsburg butch). As stupid as Ned may seem from the get-go, this rarely laugh-out-loud dysfunctional sibling comedy doesn't want us to write him off as an actual idiot. In the film's final act, he's revealed as a patent device to transform everyone around him into Better People — to the point where the character exits the city with the line, "My work here is done!" That may be Our Idiot Brother's one gift to the indie ensemble-com canon. In allowing wayward white people to find salvation from a selfless outsider-drifter-saint who is actually part of their own bloodline, the film gives permission for a genre already prone to solipsism to finally close in on itself entirely. (Rated R)

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