“If I knew, do you really think I’d tell you?”
Those are the famous last words of lovable hippie-doofus Ned (Paul Rudd) after a uniformed police officer quietly asks him where he might find some marijuana. A second later, Ned changes his mind, suavely gives the cop a big old bag of the stuff, and is promptly arrested.
The opening scene of Our Idiot Brother lets you know right off the bat where its title comes from. Poor Ned – with his grizzly beard and large head of hair down to his shoulders – really is thickheaded enough to sell illegal drugs to a cop, and his optimistic-to-a-fault attitude towards humanity is what drives a lot of the film’s comedy. A guy like Ned can even make friends with the guards in prison, where he stays for a brief stint before being released early for good behavior.
His first visit back in the real world is his former home – a run down farm that he shared with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and his best friend, a golden retriever named Willie Nelson. Ned is shocked to find Janet didn’t wait up for him and is now seeing another laid back stoner type named Billy (T.J. Miller, who steals every scene and is arguably the funniest character in the film).
Ned is left with no other option but to head to his mother’s house, where he meets up with his three loving sisters: morally ambiguous journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), stylish lesbian hipster Natalie (Zooey Deschanel, maintaining her title as having the brightest blue eyes in Hollywood), and overbearing mother of one, Liz (Emily Mortimer). Ned tends to bounce around among all of his sisters, becoming a nuisance to each of them in one way or another. Still, he’s well-meaning as ever. Whether he’s accidentally slamming a door on his nephew’s fingers, nearly ruining big time career opportunities, or repeating gossip presumably told to him in confidence, you sympathize with Ned the whole way through because, well, he’s just a really nice dude.
And of course, there’s Omar (Sterling K. Brown), Ned’s parole officer. Ned thinks of him as a sort of therapist, while Omar simply wants to make sure he stays off drugs. Ned once again puts too much trust in the wrong people and winds up giving Omar a bit too much information about his personal life even after Omar tries to stop his appreciative client.
Overall, Our Idiot Brother is a hilarious summer hit that puts Paul Rudd in a far less sarcastic, sweeter, and more idiotic role than usual, which is a breath of fresh air. While our hero tends to have a big mouth that gets himself and everyone around him in trouble, you still want to give him a big bear hug and jump on a trampoline with him. Our Idiot Brother is just that kind of guy.