Our Idiot Brother

The Weinstein Company

Rated R for nudity, sexuality and pervasive profanity.

Terminally Naïve Hippie Wreaks Havoc In Prodigal Sibling Comedy

Ned (Paul Rudd) is a good-natured organic farmer who was dumb enough to be duped into selling pot to a uniformed police officer (Bob Stephenson). Not long past the opening credits we find him just being paroled, having paid his debt to society by serving a long stretch behind bars.

However, when he hitchhikes home to surprise his girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) after being released from prison a few months early for good behavior, he’s shocked to find out she’s already shacking up with another hippie (T.J. Miller). What’s worse, she won’t even let him stay in the goat barn while he tries to get back on his feet.

So, broke and unemployed, Ned appeals to his mom (Shirley Knight) who enlists the assistance of his relatively-successful sisters, Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zoe Deschanel). They grudgingly agree to take turns letting the proverbial black sheep of the family crash on their couches, despite the fact that he has never held a steady job.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Ned to wear out his welcome at each port-of-call, when the same gullibility which initially makes him so endearing ends up destabilizing his siblings’ assorted relationships. For instance, he is forced to bid mother-of-two Liza adieu soon after matter-of-factly mentioning that he caught her film director husband (Steve Coogan) cavorting naked with his latest leading lady (Lori E. Cunningham).

He next manages to make as much of a mess of commitment-shy Natalie’s life by nonchalantly informing her lesbian lover (Rashida Jones) that his sister is now pregnant after having a hetero one-night stand. And that same blasé attitude comes into play when he inadvertently interferes with a platonic friendship of Miranda’s as well as with her latest interview assignment for Vanity Fair.

Directed by Jesse Peretz, the decidedly droll Our Idiot Brother will work for you to the degree that you are able to suspend disbelief and swallow Ned’s terminal naïvete as he unwittingly wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Credit Paul Rudd for portraying the character with an utterly convincing innocence, even if that dedicated effort is regrettably oft undermined by the script’s repeated reliance on repugnant misogynistic and mean-spirited flourishes.

A well-intentioned idealist clueless enough to make Forest Gump look streetwise.

Good (2 stars).

Running time: 90 minutes.

 

Special Treatment

(Sans queue ni tete)

First Run Features

Unrated

 

Shrink and Call Girl Cross Paths In Wry French Romp

Alice Bergerac (Isabelle Huppert) is a Parisian call girl who discretely caters to a clientele of wealthy businessmen with kinky tastes. This means that she spends her days in a high-class hotels dressed up like everything from a schoolgirl to a dominatrix in order to feed her johns’ bizarre fantasies.

Despite all the perverse behavior, it looks like Alice is providing a valuable service to the community. After all, these sessions are what enable some guys with serious issues to keep up appearances as well-adjusted family men.

Is it possible then that, other than being illegal, the world’s oldest profession shares some parallels with the practice of psychotherapy.

At least that is what is suggested by Special Treatment, a wry, erotic romp directed by Jeanne Labrune, and based on a script she co-wrote with her longtime collaborator, Richard Debuisne. The picture does a decent job of highlighting some of the similarities between Alice’s line of work and that of Dr. Xavier Demestre (Bouli Lanners), a shrink who keeps his patients confidences while charging them by the hour to explore their darkest antisocial impulses.

The big difference between the two protagonists is that Alice always leaves her customers satisfied, so to speak. Dr. Demestre’s, on the other hand, must make do with a more frustrating outcome.

In any case, the plot thickens when Alice and Xavier’s paths cross, which affords an opportunity to reflect upon the state of their personal lives. Alice may be a bit jaded about her job, but at least she’s in a fulfilling lesbian relationship with a fellow prostitute. The same can’t be said for the miserably married Xavier, who’s just about at the end of his emotional rope.

Overall, this character-driven flick does a much better job of introducing its leads in intriguing fashion than it does of offering more meaningful insights as the plot thickens. Equally underwhelming are the movie’s erotic scenes, which seem surprisingly tame for a film ostensibly obsessed with lustful liaisons.

A curious cross of sex therapy and psychotherapy where nobody spends much time either in bed or on the couch.

Good (2 stars).

In French with subtitles.

Running time: 95 Minutes.

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

 

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

 

For movies opening September 9, 2011

 

Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star (R for profanity, nudity, crude humor and pervasive sexuality). Coming-of-age comedy about a nerdy grocery clerk (Nick Swardson) who decides to move from the Midwest to Hollywood to follow in his parents’ footsteps after discovering they were once porn stars. With Christina Ricci, Don Johnson and Stephen Dorff.

 

Contagion (PG-13 for profanity and disturbing images). International thriller, directed by Steven Soderbergh, chronicling the medical community’s race against time to stem the spread of a deadly virus imperiling all of humanity. A-list cast includes Oscar-winners Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Gwyneth Paltrow, nominees Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne and Elliott Gould, as well as Sanaa Lathan, John Hawkes and Bryan Cranston.

 

Creature (Unrated). Cajun Country horror flick about an ex-Navy Seal (Mehcad Brooks) who vacations with a group of friends in a backwoods region of Louisiana in the face of local folklore about a fabled swamp monster that’s half-man and half-alligator. Ensemble includes Sid Haig, Dillon Casey and Serinda Swan.

 

Inside Out (PG-13 for violence and profanity). Crime drama about a recently paroled ex-con (Triple H) forced to protect his best friend’s (Michael Rapaport) family from a crime boss (Bruce Dern) bent on revenge for an accidental shooting. With Parker Posey, Julie White, Michael Cudlitz and Jency Griffin

 

Warrior (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and intense fight sequences). Sibling rivalry saga about an ex-Marine (Tom Hardy) haunted by a tragic past who returns home to be trained by his retired boxer father (Nick Nolte) for a big showdown with his estranged brother (Joel Edgerton) in a mixed martial arts tournament. With Noah Emmerich, Denzel Whitaker and Kevin Dunn.

 

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Unrated). Cinematic collage culled from found 16mm footage of vintage interviews conducted by Swedish journalists with leaders like Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver at the height of the Black Power movement. With current-day commentary by Erykah Badu, Harry Belafonte, Melvin Van Peebles and Talib Kweli, and featuring a soundtrack scored by Questlove and Om’Mas Keith.

 

Echotone (Unrated). Cultural portrait of Austin, TX, as painted by members of the city’s creative class, struggling musicians balancing artistic integrity against the idea of making concessions to the demands of commercialism.

 

Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain (R for sexual humor, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity). Stand-up comedy flick featuring the funnyman’s N-word and expletive-laced brand of observational humor as performed during his recent 90-city concert tour.

 

Main Street (Unrated). Urban revival drama revolving around several residents of Durham, NC, whose lives are changed by the arrival of a mysterious stranger (Colin Firth) with a controversial plan for saving their decaying hometown. With Patricia Clarkson, Ellen Burstyn, Orlando Bloom, Amber Tamblyn and Andrew McCarthy.

 

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (Unrated). Bollywood romantic comedy about a bachelor (Imran Khan) who arranges a marriage for his brother (Ali Zafar) living in London only to find himself falling in love with the free spirited bride-to-be (Katrina Kaif). With Tara D’Souza, Kanwaljit Singh and John Abraham. (In Hindi and English with subtitles.)

 

Shaolin (R for violence). Martial arts action flick about a Chinese warlord (Andy Lau) who temporarily becomes a monk to atone for his sins before returning to a life of violence to avenge the murder of his entire family by a rival gang. Cast includes Nicholas Tse, Bingbing Fan, Bing Bai and Jackie Chan. (In Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles.)

 

Tanner Hall (Unrated). Coming-of-age drama examining the teen angst of four students (Rooney Mara, Georgia King, Brie Larson and Amy Ferguson) at an all-girls boarding school located in rural New England as they deal with emotional issues like lovesickness, depression, sexual-confusion and discomfort about sleeping with a married man. With Chris Kattan, Tom Everett Scott and Michael Kelly.

 

We Were Here (Unrated). AIDS retrospective taking a long look back at the impact of the epidemic on the gay community in San Francisco where the disease claimed the lives of over 15,000 people in the early ‘80s. With appearances by Paul Boneberg, Ed Wolf and Eileen Glutzer.

 

Where The Soldiers Come From (Unrated). “God, mom and apple pie” documentary about five childhood friends from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who volunteered to serve in Afghanistan.

 

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