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'Idiot Brother' as appealing as a puppy

Posted: September 1, 2011 - 12:04am  |  Updated: September 1, 2011 - 12:10am

You don’t like puppies.

You’re weird, then, sir (or madam).

Right? How can one not like puppies? You don’t have to buy one, take it home, raise it, love it, and start referring to it as your “kid” (although I encourage and highly recommend it). But, it’s a puppy! If you don’t admit that it’s cute and tugs at your heartstrings just a bit, well then you, sir (or madam), are a weirdo. I am quite comfortable throwing around that broad generalization: Doesn’t like puppies = Weirdo.

Paul Rudd is a puppy.

Watching Rudd in the coming-soon-to-Juneau comedy, “Our Idiot Brother,” I finally realized the dude is impossible not to like. “I Love You, Man”: I did love him, man, in that flick. “Role Models”: He and Sean William Scott had very likable comedy chemistry. “Knocked Up”: I identified with his character, Pete, a little too much when he snuck off to do a fantasy baseball draft with his pals. “The 40 Year Old Virgin”: “You know how I know you’re gay? You like Coldplay.” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”: Brian Fantana! We’ll always have Brian Fantana and Sex Panther (“Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.”).

I even liked Rudd opposite Alicia Silverstone (whatever happened to her, by the way?) back in 1995’s “Clueless.”

Paul Rudd, like a puppy, is impossible not to like. And it just so happens that Rudd’s character, Ned, in “Our Idiot Brother” is more puppy-like than any of the puppy-like characters he has played to date.

Ned, who sports long hair and a bushy beard to match, is just a nice guy. Like, really nice. Like, nice to the point that he lets a cop (in full uniform) convince him to sell him a little weed on the sly as Ned mans the produce table in a farmer’s market. Ned, you see, sees the good in people. It’s his only real fault, but it’s a doosie!

The majority of “Brother” takes place after that little weed transaction, after Ned’s release from the subsequent jail sentence (all the guards give him genuinely pleasant goodbyes as he walks out of the yard, of course). Upon returning to the real world, Ned goes back to the farm where his girlfriend is and where, Ned assumes, he’ll resume his life. Except his girlfriend already has a new beau and, turns out, not only can Ned not live there but he can’t have his dog, Willie Nelson, either.

So Ned winds up with his mom. And then he starts making the rounds, living with each of his three sisters for a time until his abnormal niceness gets him in trouble. With his sister, Liz (Emily Mortimer), Ned stumbles upon her husband, Dylan (Steve Coogan), cheating. But being Ned, he actually buys Dylan’s lame story as explanation. Also, being Ned, he shares this story with another sister, and word eventually reaches Liz. Somehow, Ned gets the blame.

With his sister Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Ned unwittingly provides her with the juicy details she needs for a story (she works for Vanity Fair), which she then writes. When he’s asked to confirm everything, though, in front of her bosses, he can’t. It doesn’t seem right (it’s not). Miranda, of course, is [filtered word] at Ned for causing her problems at work.

With his sister Natalie, Ned accidentally reveals her infidelity to her girlfriend (Rashida Jones) and, of course, gets blamed by Natalie for causing her problems at home.

Ned gets blamed a lot. Blaming Ned, though, is like blaming a puppy for chewing up a shoe. Ned’s just being Ned, and that means believing what people tell him and operating in the world in a completely honest way. It’s not his fault that nobody else is capable of behaving like that. And puppies? C’mon man! It’s a puppy! You left the shoe on the floor while you were at work, not the puppy.

“Our Idiot Brother,” like its star, is likeable. It’s charming. It’s cute. It’s funny. As is usually the case with these family comedies, though, the third act is just a tad too predictable and campy. That was the only thing I didn’t like.

And then, during the final credits, someone very smart made sure they showed outtakes from filming. Outtakes with Paul Rudd. Impossible not to leave with a smile on your face after that.

Unless you don’t like puppies, in which case, as we have already discussed, you are a weirdo.

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