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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Our Idiot Brother

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Adam Scott and Paul Rudd star in a scene from the movie "Our Idiot Brother."
As it follows its gentle, ridiculously naive central character's efforts to navigate his way through the cynical jungle of modern society, "Our Idiot Brother" (Weinstein) recalls such memorable screen tales as "Being There" from 1980 and 1994's "Forrest Gump." Yet, while occasionally effective—though hardly equal in impact to those earlier titles—this satire is also sexually errant.

Opening scenes see our hero, a hippie produce farmer named Ned (Paul Rudd), demonstrating his profound cluelessness by blithely selling a stash of marijuana to a uniformed police officer. Emerging from prison some years later, Ned find that his selfish live-in girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has taken up with a new beau called Billy (T.J. Miller), leaving no room—or role—on the farm for Ned.

Homeless and broke, Ned seeks shelter with his mother, Ilene (Shirley Knight). But Ilene's lifestyle alternates boring errands by day with tippling by night.

So it's not long before Ned is lodging, in succession, with each of his trio of tightly wound sisters: politically correct lefty homemaker and overprotective mom Liz (Emily Mortimer), driven fashion journalist Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and aspiring stand-up comic Natalie (Zooey Deschanel).

Predictably, Ned's habit of guileless truth-telling wreaks havoc on the lives of his self-serious siblings, as he unintentionally hurls verbal grenades that threaten Liz's marriage to pretentious documentarian Dylan (Steve Coogan), Miranda's romance-tinged friendship with her neighbor Jeremy (Adam Scott) and bisexual Natalie's relationship with cohabiting girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones).

Director Jesse Peretz's underplayed comedy scores a few hits on modern mores as it contrasts Ned's straightforwardness with the compromises and moral corner-cutting that underlie his sisters' ostensibly more successful lives. But its use of nudity and sexual situations to elicit laughs, as well as its mainstreaming of Natalie's lesbianism, make it inappropriate for all.

The film contains strong sexual content, including graphic aberrant sexual activity, adultery, partial frontal, upper female and rear nudity, implicit acceptance of homosexual behavior, a narcotics theme, about a dozen uses of profanity and much rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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