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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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Pierre Toussaint: 
		<p>Born in modern-day Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave, Pierre died a free man, a renowned hairdresser and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics. <br /><br />Pierre Bérard, a plantation owner, made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. In his early 20s, Pierre, his younger sister, his aunt and two other house slaves accompanied their master’s son to New York City because of political unrest at home. Apprenticed to a local hairdresser, Pierre learned the trade quickly and eventually worked very successfully in the homes of rich women in New York City. <br /><br />When his master died, Pierre was determined to support his master’s widow, himself and the other house slaves. He was freed shortly before the widow’s death in 1807. </p>
		<p>Four years later he married Marie Rose Juliette, whose freedom he had purchased. They later adopted Euphémie, his orphaned niece. Both preceded him in death. He attended daily Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, the same parish that St. Elizabeth Seton attended. <br /><br />Pierre donated to various charities, generously assisting blacks and whites in need. He and his wife opened their home to orphans and educated them. The couple also nursed abandoned people who were suffering from yellow fever. Urged to retire and enjoy the wealth he had accumulated, Pierre responded, “I have enough for myself, but if I stop working I have not enough for others.” <br /><br />He was originally buried outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where he was once refused entrance because of his race. His sanctity and the popular devotion to him caused his body to be moved to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. <br /><br />Pierre Toussaint was declared Venerable in 1996.</p>
American Catholic Blog We have a responsibility to balance the scales, to show love where there is hate, to provide food where there is hunger, and to protect what is vulnerable. If life has treated you well, then justice demands that you help balance the scales.

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