April 7, 2012

World Cinema Showcase: OUR IDIOT BROTHER

The opening night film for this year's World Cinema Showcase was the very charming, very funny Paul Rudd starring Our Idiot Brother. As a film to open a film festival it's an interesting choice: a relatively unchallenging comedy with a cast of Hollywood A-listers. No serious-minded Swedes and their existential dread here thankyouverymuch.

And how thankfully refreshing it is. While it may not set the tone for the rest of the Showcase to follow,
Our Idiot Brother is still an intelligent and engaging comedy about a well-meaning and aimless drifter affecting and disrupting the lives of his uptight sisters.

Paul Rudd is that brother and, frankly, the film had me within the opening moments. Rudd is sent to jail for selling pot to a uniformed officer and, while being far from an entirely smart thing to do he isn't entirely idiotic. He is simply a more open, more naive and optimistic character. And when Rudd leaves prison, shaggy hair and beard flowing with a large grin on his face I couldn't help but be enamoured. It is the rare person who doesn't like Paul Rudd; that nicest guys of nice guys in Hollywood. Coming home from prison, he no longer has a home on the organic farm he once worked on and so finds himself bunking at his mother's, before moving through his sister's accommodation and goodwill. 

Emily Mortimer is the eldest sister; the mother with two children who, with her distant English director husband, is trying to raise her children in a politically-correct molly-coddled way. Elizabeth Banks is the career focussed journalist who is in love-denial with the cute neighbour across the hall (Adam Scott). And Zooey Deschanel is the youngest of the female siblings, a bisexual stand-up comic currently involved with Rashida Jones' very cool lawyer. They live in some sort of communal loft/open apartment thing. Deschanel seems to playing the most against type of the three; she isn't the happy dreamer or "manic-pixie-dream-girl" that has become so associated with her, especially with her new (rather good) sitcom New Girl

The family is fractured and largely happy with that status quo. Or, if not happy, then at least settled into it. And Rudd just wanders through it all, the epitome of the well meaning doofus who stumbles into bad situations. He doesn't so much upset the apple-cart as set it on a collision course down the hill, chasing after it in his crocs and causing more damage than the actual cart.

The film is not without its flaws or moments of predictability but these quickly make way for the next joke or set-up. Our Idiot Brother is an intelligent comedy centred around the charming performance of Paul Rudd. In any number of actor's hand the character could have been more annoying than anything, but with Rudd's easy likeability he anchors the film around him and allows the audience to have a good time with him. 

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