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Our Idiot Brother - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Our Idiot Brother

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3 Stars

Regardless of what the film’s title may suggest, Ned (Paul Rudd) isn’t really an idiot. It’s just that his brutal honesty is perceived as stupidity. And that’s where screenwriters David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz find their hook in Our Idiot Brother, a film directed by Jesse Peretz that explores what might happen if a very open, laid-back brother were to suddenly come back into the immediate lives of three type-A personality sisters. Through Ned we learn that ultimately, sincerity and honesty will win out over a world overrun with deception and ruthlessness.

Ned’s sisters, Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), have all left the nest, started families, and found individual careers. But Ned, a well-meaning, this-generation hippie has failed to launch. He’s spent the last three years living on a biodynamic farm with his girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) and their dog, Willie Nelson, and the last three months serving a stint for selling weed to a cop. Not an under-cover officer mind you, but a policeman with a uniform and badge.

To say that Ned marches to the beat of a different drummer is as equal an understatement as to emphatically proclaim that Michael Jordan was a good basketball player. But it’s not so much the odd drumbeat Ned’s following as it is the high-strung life and competitive nature of his neurotic sisters he’s escaping. He’s made the choice of – or perhaps has just naturally gravitated towards - a life of less cynicism and with more faith in humankind. He figures that even if someone is taking him for a ride, giving them his full trust might challenge them to live up to a higher standard. But in a world that doesn’t always operate on a system of good faith, Ned is sure to run into a few hitches along the way.

Upon leaving jail, Ned finds himself back at home with his boozy mom (Shirley Knight) on Long Island, but eventually heads out to Manhattan to restart his life while taking turns living with each of his sisters.

First, there’s the eldest, Liz, a harried wife and super-mom who has kind of let herself go. While working with Liz’s husband Dylan (Steve Coogan), Ned discovers that Dylan’s having an affair. Then there’s the middle sister Miranda, a reporter with Vanity Fair who jeopardizes her blossoming journalism career by running with a story based on information she gleaned from Ned’s personal conversations with an interview subject rather than from her own interviewing prowess. Finally, Ned blabs out that his youngest sister is pregnant, in spite of the fact that she’s supposed to be in a monogamous relationship with her life partner, Cindy (Rashida Jones). Never thought I'd ever buy into Rashida Jones as a convincing butch lesbian.

More clever than laugh-out-loud funny, the comedy is mostly driven by our observations of Ned, who can’t help screwing up the lives of his sisters one-by-one, despite his good intentions. Though he means well, Ned drives everybody crazy with his innocently laconic mouth. He’s one of those naive bumpkin-in-the-city types that would have been played by Jimmy Stewart back in the day. While Rudd is certainly no Jimmy Stewart, his straight-man trademark feeds well into his altruistic Ned.

We must give screenwriters Schisgall and Peretz credit too for some of the film’s success as they avoid painting Ned’s unfortunate situation with a broad brush of low-ball humor and tactless vulgarity. Instead they opt for letting Ned’s family conflicts play out as a natural clash of differing personalities. Anyone with siblings can certainly relate. As a result, we don’t hate Ned’s sisters for the poor decisions they’ve made, but rather sympathize with them for being victims of forces mostly outside their control. We see some of ourselves in Ned’s sisters.

The story comes together quite nicely with all the plot machinery working in unison towards its final act where we discover that the joke is not on idot Ned, but rather on us, the urbane, ambitious, career-oriented rats whose cracks are gashed wide open by the likes of Neds everywhere. They tend to make us want to blame those closest to us for our own screw-ups in life. Ned isn’t an idiot. He’s our brother. We’re the idiots. But isn’t it a warm and genuinely funny ride to find that out?

{2jtab: Film Details}

Our Idiot BrotherMPAA Rating: R for sexual content including nudity, and for language throughout.
Director: Jesse Peretz
Writer
: David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz
Cast: Paul Rudd; Elizabeth Banks; Emily Mortimer; Zooey Deschanel, Kathryn Hahn; Steve Coogan
Genre
: Comedy
Memorable Movie Quote:
"I won most cooperative inmate four months running."
Tagline:
Our idiot Brother.
Distributor:
The Weinstein Company
Official Site:
www.facebook.com/OurIdiotBrother
Release Date: August 26, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
November 29, 2011

Plot Synopsis: Ned Rochlin is a kindhearted and clueless man who gets himself thrown in jail for "sympathetically" offering some weed to a uniformed police officer. When he is released, his girlfriend kicks him out and forces him to live off the generosity of his three sisters and mother, whose stressful, ambitious lives are far from compatible with Ned's laid-back and sunny approach. The harder Ned tries to spread joy and love, the more trouble he causes.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Our Idiot Brother - blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

3 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 29, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Playback: Region A

Shot digitally, Our Idiot Brother’s 1080p transfer absolutely glows with stunning detail and visceral colors.  Its smattering of detail in every frame easily makes this one of the best blu-rays released this year.  Colors are strong throughout and practically burst through the frame with a natural intensity.  The black levels are strong and inky and keep their shape even in the darkest of moments.  While the flesh tones are a little on the light side of the palette, the clothing fine details absolutely pop and inflate with texture. Anchor Bay's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is balanced in scope and scale and provides a nice auditory boost to the picture that won’t bump the rafters but will warm the soul.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Provided by director Jesse Peretz, the commentary focuses on the production of the film, its narrative, and the characters that drive the story in its winning formula.  He talks in great length about the chemistry of the cast and the spark they bring to their characters and to the overall shoot.  This pleasing track is a real success for fans of the movie.

Special Features:

With ten minutes of deleted scenes as one of the two supplemental materials included with the release, Our Idiot Brother feels a bit … weak.  There are a lot of good things about the blu-ray but the supplementals aren’t one of them.  A featurette that focuses on the cast and the shooting of the film rounds out the release.

  • The Making of ‘Our Idiot Brother’ (15 min)
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (10 min)

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