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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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Athanasius: Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. 
<p>Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism. </p><p>When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul. </p><p>After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters. </p><p>Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism. </p><p>Among his ascetical writings, his<i> Life of St. Anthony</i> (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.</p> American Catholic Blog Suffering is redemptive in part because it definitively reveals to man that he is not in fact God, and it thereby opens the human person to receive the divine.

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