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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Our Idiot Brother

November 27th, 2011

Our Idiot Brother - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Our Idiot Brother was released in theaters late in the summer and it was never going to be a massive hit at the box office; in fact, it was thought that it might only get a limited release. When it did open, it opened wide, but struggled earning a per theater average of less than $3000 and finishing with just shy of $25 million. On the other hand, it didn't bomb either, because the film cost a mere $5 million to make, while the Weinsteins only paid $6 million for distribution rights. Depending on how much they spent on P&A, the film could break even during its early push onto the home market. Does it deserve to find more success on DVD and Blu-ray?

The Movie

Paul Rudd stars as Ned, whom we meet in the beginning working at a farmers market. He sells marijuana to Officer Washburn, a uniformed police officer, after the cop tells him he's had a rough week. Ned is so moved by Washburn's 30-second sob story that he gives him some and then is arrested. When he gets out of jail eight months later, he finds out his girlfriend, Janet, has moved on and she's kicking him out of their farm. (She's also keeping his dog.) Now he has no where to stay, but if he can raise $1000, he can rent out the old goat barn and live there.

But while he's trying to raise that money, he has to spend time living with his family, first with his mother and then with his three sisters; Emily, Miranda and Liz. He has trouble finding a home, because he keeps messing up the lives of his family members through his naivety. While living with Emily, he tries to help her son loosen up a bit and be a kid more. (His mom and dad are signing him up for interpretive dance when he wanted to take martial arts.) With Miranda he screws up an important interview by dominating the conversation. And then he royally screws up her relationship with her neighbor / potential boyfriend, Jeremy. With Liz... actually, Liz screws up her relationship with Cindy all on her own. But Ned accidentally spills some secret to Cindy.

That's generally what happens over and over again. Person A tells Ned something. Ned tells Person B what Person A said. Person A and Person B get into a fight. It makes the film a little episodic and, because some of the plot points are less compelling than others, it's really uneven at times. The part with Emily's marriage falling apart has very little to do with Ned. Worse still, while Steve Coogan is a great actor, his character wasn't engaging enough. We weren't given enough reason to care.

This segues into the main problem I have with this movie. This film has a cornucopia of amazing actors, but a shortfall of compelling characters. The mother barely exists as a character. Emily is little more than an over protective mom and ignored wife. Miranda is bossy and puts her job above humans. Ned is described as naïve, but charming. Sometimes they are only half right and at times his naivety is too much to take. Liz and Cindy's relationship is arguably the best part of the movie. At least Cindy isn't a character defined mostly by her flaws.

However, for all of its flaws, there's is more than enough here that it is worth checking out. It is just with all of the talent in front of the camera, I was expecting more.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD start with an audio commentary track with the director, Jesse Peretz. It's a solo track and suffers from the same problems of many such tracks, i.e. it doesn't have a lot of energy. There are four deleted / extended / alternative scenes that run nine minutes long. Finally, there's a 15-minute long making of featurette. I don't have the Blu-ray to review. It costs 33% more than the DVD, which is a little higher than I would like to pay for this type of release.

The Verdict

My expectations for Our Idiot Brother was a little too high and the film wasn't quite able to live up to it. The film is still worth checking out, but it is not amazing. The DVD and the Blu-ray have enough extras that it will be worth picking up for most people, but neither format is obviously better than the other.

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