With Our Idiot Brother, Paul Rudd creates a moronic character who might just go on to become a cinematic icon of sorts, along the lines of Jeff Bridge’s Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Rudd plays Ned, the title character. Barely sustaining a living on a sustainable farm, Ned has long hair, a Jesus beard and a loyal dog. It’s not that Ned doesn’t have health insurance, it’s that he doesn’t know if he has health insurance or not. He’s granola, extra crunchy.
Ned would be content to waft along in this blissfully ignorant state, but self-inflicted tragedy befalls him in the opening sequence: he’s arrested for selling pot to a uniformed police officer. Upon his release from jail – “I won most cooperative inmate four months running!” – he’s booted from the farm and falls into the intermittent care of his three high-maintenance sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer).
The story arc is an obvious one – initially a bother, Ned will become an unexpected blessing in their lives – and director Jesse Peretz (The Ex, The Chateau) doesn’t do all that much to deviate from it. Yet Rudd makes Ned such a comic force of calamitous geniality that you don’t mind the familiar narrative.
Earnest to a fault, Ned seems incapable of the duplicity and hypocrisy that most of us deal in every day. His bluntness and honesty – he spills secrets because he doesn’t realize they’re secrets – wreak havoc in his sisters’ lives, one by one. Ned looks like a prophet and somewhat functions like one, spreading the truth around and making others deal with it in his wake. Consider him a seer of stupidity.