Our Idiot Brother
|Our Idiot Brother|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jesse Peretz|
|Produced by||Anthony Bregman
|Screenplay by||Evgenia Peretz
|Story by||Evgenia Peretz
T. J. Miller
|Music by||Eric D. Johnson
|Edited by||Jacob Craycroft|
|Big Beach Films
|Distributed by||The Weinstein Company
|Running time||90 minutes|
Our Idiot Brother is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Jesse Peretz and starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer. The script was written by Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall based on Jesse and Evgenia Peretz's story, and tells the story of an idealistic man who intrudes and wreaks havoc in his three sisters' lives.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2013)|
Ned Rochlin (Paul Rudd) is a biodynamic farmer living with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn). While Ned is selling at a local market, a police officer asks where he can buy cannabis. Ned, skeptical at first, is moved by the officer's professed desperation due to having a stressful week. Feeling sympathetic, Ned gives him a rhubarb and a bag of marijuana for free. Insisting on paying, the officer coaxes Ned into charging him twenty dollars. Ned is then arrested on a charge of selling drugs.
Ned has three sisters: Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a journalist for Vanity Fair trying to get her first major article published. Though she has trouble finding a man to keep her interest, she and a neighbor, Jeremy (Adam Scott) have hidden feelings for each other. Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), is an independent, bisexual hipster living with her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), and five other roommates. Her love for Cindy conflicts with her fear of commitment. Liz (Emily Mortimer), the oldest, is married to Dylan (Steve Coogan), a documentary filmmaker. Their marriage is failing as Dylan shows no sexual or emotional interest in Liz. They also have strict control over their son River (Matthew Mindler), which leaves him unhappy and unable to express himself.
When Ned is released from prison, he returns home to his girl and his dog ("Willie Nelson"). He finds that she is living with Billy (T. J. Miller), and no longer wishes to continue their relationship. Disappointed, Ned wants to continue working at the farm, but Janet will not let him. With nowhere else to go, he asks Billy for a ride into town. During the ride, Billy tells Ned that if he can scrape together $1,000, Janet might let him stay in the goat barn for rent on the farm. Ned makes this his goal and heads to his mother's house for a family dinner.
At dinner, the family is happy to see Ned but not so happy to be around each other. They are barely into dinner when all the girls decide to leave, which disappoints Ned, who is excited to see everyone. Before leaving, Liz tells Ned that her door is always open to him. That night, Ned's mom (Shirley Knight) tells him she's glad he's home. A few days later, Ned meets with his parole officer, Omar (Sterling K. Brown). When Omar asks Ned how he is avoiding trouble, Ned struggles to come up with an answer.
Liz is surprised to see Ned show up on her doorstep, asking if he can stay with her. He is put in River's room and told that he must help around the house and work with Dylan on his newest documentary about a Russian ballerina named Tatiana (Lydia Haug). Ned takes River to his dance lesson the next day, but sees River looking into the room of boys doing karate and sighing. The next day, Ned is with Dylan and talks to Tatiana, who is surprised to learn Dylan is married.
The next day, Miranda reluctantly asks Ned to chauffeur while she interviews an important client, Lady Arabella (Janet Montgomery). Miranda hopes to pry into her scandalous past, but is dismayed to learn of a legal agreement to only ask about charity work. Miranda tries to pretend Ned isn't there, but his friendliness charms Arabella, who takes a liking to Ned.
That night, Ned goes with Natalie to a self-help meeting with Natalie's artist friend, Christian (Hugh Dancy). Christian is attracted to Natalie but is dissuaded by her lesbian relationship until Ned informs him that she is bisexual and likes guys too. Christian and Natalie take a cab home and end up having sex.
Ned goes back to working with Dylan, but is told to watch the car while Dylan conducts a private interview with Tatiana. Hours go by and Ned is approached by a police officer to move out of a tow zone. He runs upstairs to get the keys from Dylan, whom he discovered with Tatiana as they were filming an unnecessary nude scene. Dylan returns to the car and tells Ned the only reason he was naked was to make Tatiana feel more "comfortable" while being naked. Ned believes this and they head home. The next night, Ned goes with Miranda to Arabella's benefit dinner, and stays behind to have a conversation with Arabella. Although humored by Ned's story of his incarceration, she is touched when Ned explains that his philosophy on life is to trust people and give them the chance to rise up and do the right thing. She then explains the gossipy part of her life (that Miranda had hoped to discover) to Ned, who listens with interest.
Dylan expresses to Liz his desire to kick Ned out, but she refuses as he is family. However, Ned accidentally breaks River's fingers while playing a few days before River's big interview at a prestigious school. River tells the interviewer that Ned just got out of jail for selling drugs to a policeman. Liz then kicks Ned out for ruining River's chance at getting into the school (although the interviewer seemed delighted with how active and passionate River is). Ned apologizes, stating he was only trying to help River be himself.
Miranda fronts Ned the remaining cash he needs to rent out the goat barn and is about to send him there when he accidentally mentions Dylan's nude interview with Tatiana. Miranda is shocked and concludes that Dylan is having an affair and goes to call Natalie when Jeremy arrives and hits it off with Ned. When Natalie answers, Ned prepares to leave and mentions a personal detail about Arabella that makes Miranda realize that Ned has the info she needs. She forces Ned to tell her the details before she goes, which Ned is ashamed to do since he was trusted. Ned returns to the farm with money but is not allowed to rent the barn.
Ned is invited to a party at Nat's apartment where he asks Cindy, who is a lawyer, about ways to get custody of his dog. She suggests as an alternative that they work together to steal the dog from Janet. At the party, Ned is approached by a young couple who wish to have a group sex encounter with him. Ned begins to have sex with the girl but apologizes when the guy begins to kiss him and kisses the guy on the cheek instead. At lunch the next day, Jeremy explains to Ned that he is not homophobic just because he is straight and they decide to find Ned a girl. They spot a girl who is very professional, like Miranda, to which Ned suggests that Jeremy and Miranda obviously love each other. Jeremy explains that it is platonic for him and that Miranda is too bossy for him, though admitting she is beautiful. Ned casually mentions the idea to Miranda, who is hurt to learn what Jeremy had to say about the idea and tells Ned her thoughts on Jeremy. They argue and Jeremy storms out. Ned goes to see Natalie perform stand-up. He finds her puking and gets her to admit that she cheated and is now pregnant.
The family has dinner again a few days later. Liz mentions Dylan's distantness which provokes Miranda and Nat to tell her about the affair. Ned and Cindy decide that next week, when Janet goes to a Dixie Chicks concert, they will have the opportunity to steal Willie Nelson. Miranda and Nat try to help Liz feel better by saying they hate Dylan and that she is better off, but it soon turns into an argument between the three about their personal lives. Natalie storms out with Cindy and Liz leaves crying. Ned's mom is happy to have him back, explaining that the girls are too caught up on themselves. Liz confronts Dylan about the affair, and he blames her attempts at pleasing him.
Miranda takes Ned into work the next day to vouch for his statements. Ned reads the article and is shocked to see how personal Miranda made it. He refuses to admit that it was all true in order to spare Arabella the embarrassment to the company's lawyer. However, this means Miranda's article will not get published and she is embarrassed in front of her editor. She kicks Ned out and he stays with Nat, who lies about having told Cindy about the cheating. The next morning, Cindy drives with Ned to the farm to steal his dog back. They are shocked to see Janet and Billy are home and not at the concert. All is going well until Ned brings up Nat's infidelity. Cindy angrily calls Nat from inside the house, which alerts Janet to their presence. Ned tries one last time to persuade Janet while Cindy is heard yelling at Nat. Janet refuses and Cindy drives away, stranding Ned at the farm.
Ned goes to the parole officer the next day for his checkup. Ned tells Omar that the stress of his life was getting to him and he smoked marijuana with a neighbor. Omar tells Ned now he must report him. Ned goes home to family dinner and gets dirty looks from all his sisters, who blame him for all the trouble in their lives. Ned finally loses his temper and yells at them for their selfishness and for bringing everyone else down. The outburst scares the girls who immediately regret their actions. Omar, visibly upset for having to arrest Ned, arrives with a uniformed officer and takes him into custody. Miranda posts Ned's bail, but Ned refuses to sign his release form, opting to stay in prison rather than be with the girls. They devise a plan to get Willie Nelson from Janet in order to get him to leave. They drive to Janet and ask for Willie Nelson. Janet refuses, saying she loves the dog. Miranda yells and says that no one could love anything as unconditionally as Ned loves everything and that he deserves the dog. Despite her refusal, Billy comes out of the house carrying Willie Nelson, tired of Janet refusing to give Ned his dog. They take Willie Nelson to the prison where he is reunited with Ned, giving him the motivation to leave prison.
A few weeks later, Ned is out to lunch with his sisters. Nat receives a call from Cindy, who wants to go with Nat to her gynecologist appointments for support. Miranda has patched things up and started a relationship with Jeremy. Liz has decided to start dating again and has started letting River be himself. Ned decides it is time for him to go back to his life the way he likes it, out of the city and in a quiet area. The girls are sad to see him go, but wish him the best. Later on, Ned and Billy have opened up a small homemade candle shop together and seem to do well enough. One day, Ned cannot find Willie Nelson and begins running through town looking for him. He finds Willie playing with another dog in a park area who has also run away from her owner. The owner, Amy, comes up and Ned finds he has a lot in common with the woman. When he asks her dog's name, the owner replies "Dolly Parton" to which Ned says his dog is "Willie Nelson" and smiles.
- Paul Rudd as Nedrick "Ned" Rochlin
- Elizabeth Banks as Miranda Rochlin
- Zooey Deschanel as Natalie "Nat" Rochlin
- Emily Mortimer as Liz Rochlin Anderson
- Adam Scott as Jeremy Horne
- Kathryn Hahn as Janet Ziebell
- Steve Coogan as Dylan Anderson
- Hugh Dancy as Christian Smith
- Rashida Jones as Cindy Harris
- T. J. Miller as Billy Orwin
- Matthew Mindler as River Byng
- Shirley Knight as Ilene Rochlin
- Janet Montgomery as Lady Arabella Galloway
- Lydia Haug as Tatiana
- Sterling K. Brown as Parole Officer Omar Coleman
- Bob Stephenson as Officer Washburn
- Katie Aselton as Amy
- Christopher Evan Welch as Robbie (Uncredited)
The story was conceived by Jesse Peretz and his sister Evgenia, who had written a screenplay together before but were unable to finance the project. They greatly enjoyed working together though, so they decided to draft another story, this time "a bit more commercial" and with characters in their 30s. They planned to cast actors with whom Peretz was already friends, and created the main character with Paul Rudd in mind. The script was written by Evgenia Peretz and her husband David Schisgall, and was completed by December 2009 under the original title of My Idiot Brother.
Peretz brought the script to producer Anthony Bregman, with whom he had worked on the 2007 film The Ex. According to Bregman, "I was always looking for something to do with him [Peretz] and he came to me with this script. It was fantastic." Bregman was familiar with producers Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub and had previously attempted to collaborate with the two. He sent them the script in April 2010 and Saraf said that he "loved it and was eager to work with both of them [Bregman and Peretz]." The film was co-financed by Bregman's production company, "Likely Story" and Saraf and Turtletaub's company, "Big Beach", with a budget of less than $10 million. The project developed unusually rapidly for an independent film; Bregman remarked in September 2010, "We worked on it for a few months and then it came together really quickly for the world of independent film. [...] We will have a cut of the film less than a year after we saw this script." Saraf said, "This movie will set a record for how quickly it came together: from the time I first read the script to the time we wrapped the shoot was four months."
Paul Rudd signed on to play the lead role even before Saraf and Turtletaub had picked up the film. The principal cast was announced in early June, including the roles played by Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Rashida Jones. Additional cast members including Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn, Shirley Knight, Janet Montgomery and Steve Coogan were announced in late July.
Principal photography began in July 2010 and took a total of 30 days over a six-week span. Filming took place in and around New York City, with a 30% tax credit from the New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development. Various locations were used in Brooklyn and Manhattan as well as Upstate New York; specific locations included Washington Heights, Cold Spring, New York, The Hamptons, Hotel Chelsea and Pete's Candy Store in Williamsburg. Post production was completed in Big Beach's New York offices.
Our Idiot Brother received some positive reviews following its release, garnering 67% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus was: "It's decidedly uneven, but like Paul Rudd's performance in the title role, Our Idiot Brother is too charming to resist."
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