Best Comedy [2011 TAMYS]
OUR IDIOT BROTHER
Perhaps Paul Rudd is simply destined to star in films that catch on a year or more after they’re released along with a horribly misguided ad campaign. I’m predicting that in 2013, right after the positive critical re-assessment of James L. Brook’s How Do You Know, Our Idiot Brother will heralded as fantastic, funny, (gulp) heartwarming and the closest we’ve come to Being There in a long time.
In the meantime, I recommend taking a deep breath, slowly exhaling, and shedding away at least one layer of cynicism while taking in The Zen of Ned; consider the difference in idealism and naivete, the virtues of honesty and doing unto others… I mentioned this is a comedy, right? Paul Rudd is at his most charming as Ned and as his sisters, Elizabeth Banks is a fine Avery-Jessup-with-a-Parker-Posey-wig mode (flanked by an under-seen Adam Scott), Emily Mortimer wrings pathos under Steve Coogan’s thumb and Zooey Deschanel makes out with Rashida Jones (multiple times, I think!). Even if you put the former bassist of The Lemonheads behind the camera, I doubt you could screw this up.
I kid, Jesse Peretz. I’ve been a fan since you got Giovanni Ribisi and Natasha Gregson Wagner to make out with each other for an hour n’ a half back in the mid-90’s and called it First Love, Last Rites. Though The Chateau and The Ex aren’t without problems (hey, let’s see you get Charles Grodin out of retirement!) they do highlight Peretz’s talent for timing, letting scenes breathe and finding the honesty in the comedy. Our Idiot Brother didn’t fare too well at the box office, but I hope it allows for more opportunities for Peretz as he took a big step forward here.
Alas, Paul Rudd receives the biggest part of this TAMY by successfully refusing, from frame one, to let Ned become a full-on hippy-dippy caricature - which would have been the easiest way to go and get broader laughs. By the end of the film I was certain I’d seen the most layered character Rudd has ever played. But wait, this is 2013 talk - let’s begin 2012 by kickstarting the How Do You Know appreciation campaign! I should probably watch it first though…