Whoever designed the DVD cover for My Idiot Brother needs to be taught a lesson about lying to your intended audience. Being quoted as a “hilarious must-see” and a “bighearted comedy”, one would expect to watch a heartfelt, funny story. My Idiot Brother is none of these. It is a very serious, often dark, story. I did not laugh once throughout the film. As far as the drama goes, it feels very lacking in chemistry.
Paul Rudd stars as Ned, an organic farmer kicked off his property by his ex-girlfriend. Struggling to find a place to stay, he hops around living with his sisters Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschenel), and Liz (Emily Mortimer). Each sister is doing something incredibly stupid with their life, while Ned just wants to do the right thing. Unfortunately, his big mouth makes the life of his sisters more difficult as he spills their secrets because he is just trying to do the right thing.
The pacing of the film is incredibly slow, and when it’s not scenes of back-to-back monotonous dialogue, something awkward is thrown in. There’s one scene that’s supposed to be funny where Ned is invited to have a threesome with some girl and a guy at a party. When he apologizes for not going through with it, the humor falls flat. All that it becomes is an awkward scene that doesn’t relate to the story.
While Paul Rudd does hit best to be a likable guy, something about his character seems too passive for him to be the main character. When he finally snaps, there were no signs from him in the rest of the film that it was building up. The only scene in the movie that works is when Ned gets fed up and drops being a nice guy. He finally gets interesting. Beyond that, there’s not much to his character besides being a nice guy with a big mouth. His transition from nice guy to angry happens at an offbeat pace.
The sisters are so dis-likable that it’s nearly impossible to sympathize with their problems. Miranda wants to exploit a secret of a kind woman she is interviewing, Natalie cheats on her wonderful girlfriend with a jerk, and Liz lets her irritating husband call all the shots in the house while putting her down. They aren’t believable as a family, and just seem more like a group of people who need a therapy session. They all lack convincing temptation. It’s as if each one these girls make their decisions just for the thrill of it. Natalie’s decision is especially frustrating, because the man she cheats with has no elements of excitement or interest that would cause her to do so. Her girlfriend is far more exciting and fun, and her actions don’t make much sense.
Our Idiot Brother is a film that has no clue what it wants to be. Is it supposed to be a drama? What parts are we supposed to laugh at? Either way, the film was an overall unpleasant experience to sit through. Pulling off a “dramedy” is no easy task, and should never be attempted unless the filmmaker knows exactly what he’s doing. This is easily a film that should have picked one at stuck with it.