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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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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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