NEW YORK (CNS) — As it follows its gentle, ridiculously naive central character’s efforts to navigate his way through the cynical jungle of modern society, "Our Idiot Brother" (Weinstein) recalls such memorable screen tales as "Being There" from 1980 and 1994’s "Forrest Gump." Yet, while occasionally effective — though hardly equal in impact to those earlier titles — this satire is also sexually errant.
Opening scenes see our hero, a hippie produce farmer named Ned (Paul Rudd), demonstrating his profound cluelessness by blithely selling a stash of marijuana to a uniformed police officer. Emerging from prison some years later, Ned find that his selfish live-in girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has taken up with a new beau called Billy (T.J. Miller), leaving no room — or role — on the farm for Ned.
Homeless and broke, Ned seeks shelter with his mother, Ilene (Shirley Knight). But Ilene’s lifestyle alternates boring errands by day with tippling by night.
So it’s not long before Ned is lodging, in succession, with each of his trio of tightly wound sisters: politically correct lefty homemaker and overprotective mom Liz (Emily Mortimer), driven fashion journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and aspiring stand-up comic Natalie (Zooey Deschanel).
Predictably, Ned’s habit of guileless truth-telling wreaks havoc on the lives of his self-serious siblings, as he unintentionally hurls verbal grenades that threaten Liz’s marriage to pretentious documentarian Dylan (Steve Coogan), Miranda’s romance-tinged friendship with her neighbor Jeremy (Adam Scott) and bisexual Natalie’s relationship with cohabiting girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones).
Director Jesse Peretz’s underplayed comedy scores a few hits on modern mores as it contrasts Ned’s straightforwardness with the compromises and moral corner-cutting that underlie his sisters’ ostensibly more successful lives. But its use of nudity and sexual situations to elicit laughs, as well as its mainstreaming of Natalie’s lesbianism, make it inappropriate for all.
The film contains strong sexual content, including graphic aberrant sexual activity, adultery, partial frontal, upper female and rear nudity, implicit acceptance of homosexual behavior, a narcotics theme, about a dozen uses of profanity and much rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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