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'Our Idiot Brother': Paul Rudd charms the critics

August 26, 2011 |  1:56 pm

Paul Rudd, with Elizabeth Banks, charms critics in 'Our Idiot Brother'
On screen and off, the new Paul Rudd-starring comedy "Our Idiot Brother" is a family affair. Rudd plays a laid-back organic farmer who gets busted for selling weed to a uniformed police officer and, after a quick stint in prison, bounces around the homes of his three go-getter sisters, effectively throwing their lives into chaos.

The film surely draws inspiration from the lives of its kin creators: Jesse Peretz directs and Evgenia Peretz, his sister, co-wrote the screenplay with her husband, David Schisgall. The result seems to have pleased most critics, largely thanks to Rudd's easygoing performance.

As The Times' Betsy Sharkey writes, "You can thank Paul Rudd for the natural high that keeps 'Our Idiot Brother' floating along so amusingly." Sharkey adds, "The comedy isn't always as crisp as it should be, but [director Jesse] Peretz has the perfect partner in crime in Rudd. The actor has an uncanny ability to create characters that feel completely devoid of avarice, angst or anything unseemly. There is nary a worry line on that brow, and I don't think it's Botox."

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert also has kind words for the star: "This movie wouldn't work without Paul Rudd." He also writes: "I've seen Paul Rudd in a lot of movies, but have never realized he could be as lovable as Amy Adams or Mary Steenburgen."

A.O. Scott of the New York Times calls the film thin, and his appraisal of Rudd's character, Ned, is a bit equivocal, saying that "if he were played by anyone other than Paul Rudd, he would be utterly unbearable." But Scott does declare the script witty and the cast charming, especially Rashida Jones: "Ms. Jones, given less to work with, does more than most of her counterparts, and when Cindy is around, you might wish that the projectionist would change the reels and show a movie about her instead of all these other tiresome folks."

Dana Stevens at Slate finds the film's languid nature refreshing, writing, "I can't quite account for why the whole of 'Our Idiot Brother' seemed to me greater than the sum of its admittedly modest parts. Maybe it's just nice to see a comedy that's about something other than 'Will these guys get laid?' or 'Which one will she marry?' "

But not everyone deems the film likable, if light: Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe thinks it cynical. Of the Peretz siblings and Schisgall, Morris writes, "You can feel them all straining for a hit so desperately and with such condescension that they've lost any sense of what their movie is about, who this family is, how its members relate to each other. All they want is your Facebook 'like.' "

If "likes" are indeed what the filmmakers are after, they may get their share, courtesy of Paul Rudd.

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--Oliver Gettell

Photo: Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks star in "Our Idiot Brother." Credit: Nicole Rivelli/The Weinstein Co.

http://theenvelope.latimes.com/galleries/photo/redcarpet/la-et-our-idiot-brother-premiere-pictures,0,6830969.photogallery

 
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