The man-child: a staple character for modern comedy and notoriously known for being played one-note. They get the laugh they get out.
But turning the lovable goofball or zoned-out knucklehead into something more is no easy task—which makes Paul Rudd's work in Our Idiot Brother that much more impressive. Rudd's Earth-friendly farmer Ned (the closest thing to a new Lebowski we've seen since the original) finds himself down on his luck after being entrapped by a police officer looking for pot. After a stint in jail he abandons his rural hippie commune for the big city to take shelter with his three sisters. Unfortunately for Ned his three siblings Liz (Emily Mortimer) Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) are as equally displaced and confused from the ebb and flow of life—albeit with severely different perspectives of the world.
Liz struggles to put her kid in private school and keep her marriage to documentary filmmaker/scumbag Dylan (Steve Coogan) intact. Miranda claws her way to the top of Vanity Fair's editorial staff and shuns her flirtatious neighbor (Adam Scott). Natalie stresses over her commitment issues with girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones) leaving little time or patience for Ned's bumbling antics. Sound like a lot of plot? While the manic lives of Ned's sisters click symbolically with his journey to get back on his feet it makes for one sporadic narrative.
Like a series of vignettes Our Idiot Brother never gels but when director Jesse Peretz finds a moment of unadulterated Nedisms to throw up on screen the movie hits big. Whether it's Ned teaching his nephew how to fight accidentally romancing his sister's interview subject or infiltrating his ex-girlfriend's house to steal his dog Willie Nelson the movie relies heavily on Ned's antics and its smart to do so. But thin throughlines for its supporting don't hold a candle to Rudd doing his thing.
And its a testament to Rudd's versatility—the man has done everything from Shakespeare and raunchy Judd Apatow comedies after all—that makes the movie watchable. Rudd gives dimensionality to his nincompoop character allowing darker emotions to creep in when necessary. There's a point in the film when Ned gives up fighting for his type-A sisters' affection and it's some of the best material Rudd's ever delivered. But like one of Ned's lit joints Our Idiot Brother can quickly fizzle out leading to plodding plot twists and sentimental conclusions. Mortimer Banks and Deschanel are great actresses—here they drift through their scenes and come out in the end changed. Because they have to.
Our Idiot Brother tries to take the Apatow model to the indie scene and comes through with so-so results. Only Rudd's able to find something to latch on to to build upon to warm up to. In an unexpected twist it's the man-child who seems the most grown up.
Finally, America will get what it's always wanted: Paul Rudd sporting a huge fucking beard.
At the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, The Weinstein Company just closed a deal to distribute My Idiot Brother, the new comedy starring Rudd as a paroled pot dealer. It guarantees a minimum of $6 million and has a $15 million P&A commitment for a wide theatrical release.
The film follows Rudd as a paroled pot dealer who moves in with his sisters as he tries to get his life together. And, it carries one helluva cast. On top of Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn, Shirley Knight and Janet Montgomery all are starring. Yeah, we know, right?
Anyway, in other Sundance news, The Big Bang was just purchased by Anchor Bay. Starring Antonio Banderas, he plays a detective investigating the murder of an unknown stripper. Throughout the case, unfortunately, more deaths occur. The noir-thriller also stars William Fichtner, Sienna Guillory, Bill Duke, James Van Der Beek, Sam Elliott, Delroy Lindo and -- yeah that's right -- Snoop Dogg. To make matters ever more awesome? Johnny Marr scored the film. So, yeah. Once again, we know, right?
For complete Sundance 2011 coverage, click here.
As we all know, 2010 was a bit of a dismal year for movies. Of course, we have some true gems that came out of 365 days that mostly served up a slew of lukewarm, tolerable films and a whole host of downright awful ones; and you would think that an awards ceremony would serve to pick out the best of the best. Instead the Golden Globes seem to be rewarding the brightest stars, even if their sparkle is a little dingy. However, if the past tells us anything, we should have known that the nominations for the Globes would be a bit questionable.
This isn’t the only year that we’ve seen some arguably undeserved Golden Globe nominations or at lease nominations that rewarded adequate films whose successes were bloated by star power but little else. It’s true; the Globes sort of play the little sister partying her way through college to the Oscars’ upstanding gentleman, so it would seem the most important factor for scoring a nomination is your Q score without quality of performance coming in second. On that cheery note, join as we count down the top 10 dubious Globe noms over the past 10 years. We’ve done our research, and every film on this list is rated certifiably rotten according to the cumulative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and that’s pretty hard to argue with.
10. Across the Universe (2007)
Best Picture Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%
This Julie Taymor romp through the Beatles catalog of hits was visually stunning, taking a few questionable takes on the classic tunes and wielding them through a weak storyline that attempted to connect the music with the history that served as its backdrop. The film was fun, but by no means a triumph. The dialogue is weak and the story is a bit stale. This is the case of an adequate film worth a viewing or two but by no means deserving of a top honor. There are a few who hold this film in incredibly high standings who’d disagree with me on this one, but majority rule says “nay” to this flick.
9. Mel Gibson, What Women Want (2000)
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%
This early 2000s romantic comedy accomplished nothing more than its bare-bones promise. Mel Gibson stumbled along through the outlandish plot wherein he not only survives falling into a bathtub with a hair dryer, but somehow obtains the magical power of hearing women’s thoughts. Gibson was nominated for a Globe, presumably for his ability to raise his eyebrows and try on pantyhose rather than his aptitude for comedic genius.
8. “Die Another Day” by Madonna, Die Another Day (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%
Not only was the film itself one of the worst Bond films I’ve ever seen – it literally abolished all the aspects of Mr. Bond that were great – but the song is flat out terrible and completely uninspired. There were quite a few terrible Original Song nominations over the past few years, but this one takes the cake. It’s quite literally a combination of a few unintelligible lyrics, techno laser-gun noises, auto-tuned Madonna, and an opportunity to repeat the title of the movie over and over…and over just in case you forgot why she wrote the song in the first place.
7. Hugh Jackman, Kate and Leopold (2001)
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
This is another example of the subpar romantic comedy with two big names. Our own film critic gave the film a measly two stars and said the movie was “poorly executed” and relied on Meg Ryan’s “stale” charms, and I’m inclined to whole-heartedly agree (as did most other film critics). As for Jackman, as adorable as he is, all he did was trade in his Aussie accent for a prim and proper British one and say nice things to Ryan. That’s it. Kate and Leopold isn’t worth watching unless you’re snowed in and it’s playing on loop on Lifetime or Oxygen because it’s better than episodes of Maury and The Price is Right; it definitely doesn’t merit a golden statuette to recognize its cinematic “achievement.”
6. Sandra Bullock, Miss Congeniality (2000)
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%
Was Miss Congeniality fun? Sure it was. Was it entertaining? Sure it was. But did it provide anything that could be considered a comedic achievement or even translate to fun for anyone besides girlies settling in with their Junior Mints and awaiting a total chick flick? Nope. As for Sandy, she does the same thing she does in every single movie. I’d probably even choose to give her a Globe nom for Practical Magic over her slapstick performance in Miss Congeniality. She may have played the coolest, sweetest FBI agent ever, but that doesn’t mean she needs a gold star.
5. Nine (2009)
Best Picture Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%
First of all, did anyone even see this movie? And of that small portion who did make it to the theater, did any of them even like it? Well, the evidence is to the contrary. Rob Marshall attempted to recreate the musical magic he achieved with 2002’s Chicago, but missed the mark by a mile, yet the film still merited a spot on the nominations list last year. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the film packed five big names and therefore ensured five famous faces to add to the champagne-soaked crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Ballroom. Dear Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the fact that the category has room for musicals doesn’t mean you MUST include a musical.
4. Hayden Christensen, Life As A House (2001)
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
Why would anyone nominate Hayden Christensen for an acting award? The only award he should get should be for being the prettiest male Star Wars character or for his ability to grunt and make menacing eyebrow movements. Even when he delivered what is most likely the best performance of his career in Shattered Glass (which was in itself a very good film), the only thing I could say about his performance was that he didn’t screw it up. In Life As A House, he did the same thing he does in every movie: look pretty and deliver lines in an awkward cadence. This is what merits an award these days?
3. Burlesque (2010)
Best Picture Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%
Did they learn nothing from Nine? Yes, it was the biggest musical movie this year, but it was pretty flat and uninspiring. You know that feeling you get when a grand musical number rouses your soul and just makes you want to get up and dance? Cher and Christina Aguilera’s big, dancy, sparkly film couldn’t even muster that. The plot was obviously engineered just to make room for the original songs and dance numbers, but the songs aren’t even that great. Even though the year was a bit dismal for movies, there are at least a handful that could have taken the place of this vapid movie. Kickass? Cyrus? Honestly, I’d even prefer to see the latest Twilight movie nominated over this – at least the idea that teenagers are horny and angsty is more believable than the notion that Aguilera is a 20-something burlesque prodigy from the Midwest.
2. Renee Zellweger, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
Best Actress Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27%
Yikes, that is not a pretty number. This movie was so bad that even die-hard Bridget Jones fans were happy to see the credits roll. The first film was endearing, adorable even – yet still not necessarily award-worthy – but this abominable second installment was not only insulting to our intelligence but begged the question: did they drug Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, drag them into a room, starve them into hallucination and then ask them to sign a contract to make this movie? Don’t believe me? Go ahead, spend an afternoon watching it and tell me you don’t miss those precious 108 minutes that could have been spent eating ice cream, petting a puppy, or I don’t know, watching another movie.
1. Angelina Jolie, The Tourist (2010)
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 20%
Here we have it folks: the nomination so ludicrous that even Angelina laughed when she heard the news. The film basically served as an excuse for two Hollywood heavyweights to hang out in exotic European locales and get paid for it. Too bad they didn’t manage to share any of that fun and fancy free feeling with audiences, and the two sexpots didn’t even give us a good, steamy scene. All we got was a single measly kiss. Let’s call this nomination what it is: an Angelina-you’re-so-gorgeous-and-sexy-please-come-to-our-ceremony-and-drink-champagne-because-you’re-so-pretty award. Too bad that won’t fit on the little placard at the base of those Golden Globe statuettes.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
Essentially about the offbeat relationship between two very distinct people with anything but normal families Gigantic centers around the search for meaning by Brian Weathersby a 29-year-old high-end mattress salesman who is looking for something to anchor his life to. He becomes determined to adopt a baby from China but soon gets involved in an unexpected and wholly different kind of romance when the quirky and pretty Harriet aka Happy wanders into his showroom and falls asleep on one of the beds. Along the way he must deal not only with her loudmouth father Al but also his own dippy parents and two older more successful brothers.
WHO'S IN IT?
When describing the charms of Gigantic all roads lead to Paul Dano who underplays Brian in a wonderfully droll deadpan-style reminiscent of the great Peter Sellers in Being There. Dano who has done this low-key kind of act before in Little Miss Sunshine is truly winning without expressing visible emotion and letting others play off his blank canvas. As Harriet Zooey Deschanel also takes what could be a one-note character and invests her with complexity and quirky humanity. You can't take your eyes off of her when she's on-screen. Veteran actors Edward Asner and John Goodman play the pair's fathers and both adapt their oversized personas beautifully to the precise rhythms established by the stars. Goodman gets great mileage out of his character's bad back problems and is better than he's been on screen in years. Jane Alexander as Brian's mother also has a couple of wonderful moments. Hot comedian Zach Galifianakis takes on the film's oddest role as a mysterious homeless man who keeps showing up to attack Brian.
Co-writer and first-time feature film director Matt Aselton takes a cue from directors like Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude Being There) and Spanish surrealist Luis Bunuel in creating a tone and distinct minimalist sandbox for his actors to play in and it works beautifully for those in the audience who don't need every little detail explained. By dialing it way down he gets an aura of originality not attempted in many comedies these days.
By crossing the line between fantasy and reality and intentionally blurring his main character's emotional well-being a unique device is used throughout that will require patience and suspension of belief before its ultimate payoff toward the end. The less adventurous viewers may not want to make the investment.
A restaurant double-date between Dano Deschanel plus Goodman and his date is brilliantly written and acted as Brian is grilled in vivid detail by Harriet's take-no-prisoners dad.
BEST GREETING BY A STONER:
A slacker friend who has probably already smoked his lifetime supply of weed asks and answers his own question with every hello: "Hey dude What's up? Not much."
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
If you can find this indie gem in theaters go! But it should be hitting the video shelves before you can say "Hey dude. What's up? Not much."
If you thought a San Francisco police detective (Michael Douglas) was hard to break imagine how tough it is to sway a London shrink (David Morrissey). Leave it to Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) to try. The sinful author has resurfaced and--in the nearly decade and a half since the first Basic Instinct--moved to London. Old habits die hard however and she’s again being investigated for a sex-gone-awry homicide. This time it’s renowned shrink Michael Glass who’s charged with keeping a watchful eye on the elusive seductress--and does he ever! He tries to maintain his professional ethos but what’s a platonic doctor-patient non-relationship to him is the ultimate aphrodisiac to Tramell whom Dr. Glass diagnoses with “risk addiction” and delusions of omnipotence. And so begins the Freudian chess match: How long can he resist the femme fatale and how long can she resist him resisting her? In Basic Instinct 2 Stone makes us feel naughty--and not a “good” naughty. She looks great and there aren't any uh extra close-ups but subtly put almost 15 years have past since the first installment and Stone is no spring chick--er rabbit as it were. For her to still be oozing sex as if it’s only been a sequel-standard couple of years is creepy even though she looks nowhere near her age. The accompanying smolder and breathy voice make it hard not to laugh; she’s actually too regal an actress for this stuff. Morrissey--who strangely resembles the Smiths singer of the same name--does fine work with an unenviable role of a steely bloke intrigued by the seedy London underworld his patient enjoys. But it’ll take repeated broodings for him to be the next Clive Owen. The biggest waste of talent comes from Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool) as Glass’s mentor. She has no place here and that’s meant solely as a compliment. In some ways Basic Instinct 2 is such a shame: When the film operates purely as a murder mystery--at least for its first half--it’s somewhat engaging. Sadly the only reason there’s any interest in this long-delayed sequel at all is the prospects of sex to outlast its original. Thus it is clear to see how cantankerous a film this must’ve been for director Michael Caton-Jones but he does the best he can with all the sexual innuendo that leads up to all the sexual (anti-)climaxes. The completely absurd opening sequence gives it all up without even playing hard to get. It immediately feels like a traditionally slick dull and revelatory film whereas the first one offered us foreplay first before moving on to no-holds-barred sex; there’s neither that brand of foreplay nor sex here. More ridiculous still is the second half as the film eventually feebly attempts to hide improbable twists behind the sordid mind of a writer.