DVD Review: Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother DVD STUDIO: Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Jesse Peretz | CAST: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 11/29/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurette, deleted and extended scenes
SPECS: R | 90 min. | Comedy | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

If your dog were suddenly able to talk like a human while retaining all those dog-like qualities — absolute trust in others, the complete inability to lie even a little bit — that you adore, would you still love his company? Or would you find him exasperating?  This, in a sense, is the question posed in Our Idiot Brother, starring Paul Rudd (Dinner for Schmucks) as the titular sibling.

Our Idiot Brother movie scene

Elizabeth Banks takes in Paul Rudd's foolishness in Our Idiot Brother.

Rudd’s Ned is an easy-going stoner type, a naïf set loose in a duplicitous world he can’t quite make sense of. After being dumped by his girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn, How Do You Know), he’s kicked off the organic farm where they both lived and worked. So, he’s forced to turn to his three Brooklyn-based sisters Miranda, Natalie, and Liz, played respectively by Elizabeth Banks (The Next Three Days), Zooey Deschanel (Your Highness) and Emily Mortimer (City Island).

Ned’s presence widens the fissures in their lives into gaping cracks as he stumbles witlessly along, not realizing the lengths to which his sisters have gone in order to deny obvious truths. Of course, it isn’t Ned’s fault that Liz has married the wrong man (Steve Coogan, The Trip), who now cheats on her voraciously; or that Miranda has employed journalistic techniques of questionable integrity as she strives for a promotion at the magazine she writes for; or that Natalie has cheated on her lesbian life-partner (Rashida Jones, The Social Network) with a man and is now pregnant with his child.

But it is Ned’s inability to pretend that things are what they aren’t that forces his sisters to confront their own bad choices, a “favor” for which they aren’t particularly grateful. When Ned isn’t speaking truth to power, he’s trying desperately to recover the beloved dog his ex-girlfriend is holding as a sort of relationship hostage despite the dog’s obvious preference for Ned. You knew there had to be a literal family dog in this film, right?

Helmed by rocker-turned-director Jesse Peretz (The Ex), Our Idiot Brother is an engaging enough film. The actors are all immensely likable and tend to rise above the material, which is pleasant but somewhat thin. I was never exactly sure, for example, if Ned was supposed to fall somewhere on the Forrest Gump continuum of diagnosable mental deficiencies, or if we were simply to understand that he has smoked one too many fatties out there in the organic farmyard.

Or perhaps debuting screenwriters Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall were trying to make the point that potheads are fundamentally more decent than the rest of us. (The potheads I dated in college serve as striking counter-examples to this theory.) In any case, the charisma of Rudd and his co-stars will carry you along until you’re no longer thinking too hard about where the film is going. It’s all about enjoying the ride, dude.

The modest selection of bonus features on the DVD is led by a commentary by Peretz, who sounds quite comfortable and friendly as he discusses the ins and outs of the movie’s production, as well as his personal relationships with many of the cast members. (He and Rudd are apparently neighbors as well as very good friends.)

The DVD also offers nine minutes of unexceptional extended and deleted scenes and a 15-minute making-of featurette that finds the cast and crew in a chattily good mood.


Buy or Rent Our Idiot Brother
Amazon graphic
DVD | Blu-ray
DVD Empire graphicDVD | Blu-ray Movies Unlimited graphicDVD | Blu-ray Netflix graphic

About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).