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'Our Idiot Brother' review: Don't judge a person by his beard

*** (out of four)

If Tigger were slower, calmer—and human—he might be like Ned (Paul Rudd), a likable optimist who’s never held a steady job and isn’t that concerned about it. His sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer), on the other hand, consider Ned to be an irresponsible nuisance and aren’t really sure what to do with him.

The buzz: Director Jesse Peretz’s last feature film was 2006’s excruciatingly bad romantic comedy “The Ex.” Still, how could anyone deliver a bad movie with a cast (including Rashida Jones, Steve Coogan, Adam Scott, Hugh Dancy and Kathryn Hahn) this good?

The verdict: Funny, sweet and a little soft. That applies to Ned, his dog Willie Nelson and “Our Idiot Brother,” an endearing ensemble piece that goes down like the diet version of Mike Leigh’s spectacular “Happy-Go-Lucky.” There may be no more appealing actor than Rudd. He turns Ned into an oblivious idealist who makes friends easily, not some lovable buffoon to laugh at. The movie’s too much about his sisters—whose lives aren’t exactly stable—learning to appreciate their brother’s honesty, rather than Ned discovering that there will be consequences to blurting out secrets and always giving people the benefit of the doubt. (On the subway he hands a wad of cash to a stranger and asks, “Can you hold this?”) Yet the film’s ultimate, somewhat contrived means of wrapping everything up warmly feels less like predictability and more like karma.

Did you know: Ned eats a sample cup of frozen yogurt with a spoon. Ridiculous quirk or smart way to make it last?

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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