Can a film with a too-good-to-be-true cast still pull off the most sincere, truthful, and flat-out hilarious film of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival? If the cast of My Idiot Brother is any indication then it’s a most emphatic, yes! Just seeing all the names together seems like a work of inspired insanity. Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Adam Scott, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, T.J. Miller, Kathryn Hahn – see what I mean? Phew, talk about expectations!
Clearly no film can live up the hype that could possibly surround a film with this many people involved. Thankfully Jesse Peretz, working from a script by Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall, brings out the big guns. Not only does this cast know comedy, but they can all act too. That helps make the funny seem even greater for obvious reasons. Instead of the film just being a big smorgasbord of routine sketch comedy, everything comes together as a whole and leaves you wanting more. If you wouldn’t want to spend your time with this bunch then who are you hanging out with?!
Ned (Rudd) has just sold a cop some weed. Now he’s thrown in prison and eventually let out early and has earned the moniker, “most cooperative inmate, four months running.” After meeting up with his hysterical scene stealing parole officer, Omar (Sterling Brown), and shacking up at his mother Ilene’s (Shirley Knight) house in Long Island, it isn’t long before his sisters (Banks, Deschanel and Mortimer) all realize that maybe having Ned around isn’t as awful as they think. Of course Ned is always trying to help, but his hippie ways tend to get in the way while his verbal diarrhea makes it hard for people to accept their own truths.
Finessing a tightrope of hilarity and pathos, the jokes may fly fast and furious but every one of them hits the mark no matter how subtle or broad. And Paul Rudd truly has become one of the absolute funniest people on the planet working in film today. In particular, there’s a scene featuring some verbal sparring between him and Adam Scott that could have quickly devolved into just another “you know how I know you’re gay?” moment that transcends the familiarity and drives home one of the films’ most hilarious scenes.
Everyone brings their A-game to provide Sundance one of its best Premiere films and thankfully I was able to stick around for a great Q&A featuring Rudd, director Peretz, Deschanel, Banks, Mortimer, and Brown. I can’t wait for The Weinstein Company’s wide release for the general public to see what a masterful thing the world of comedy truly can be.
My Idiot Brother will be screened on Saturday at 6 PM at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City.
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