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.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star took to the stage last December (09) in an adaptation of the Moliere classic opposite Damian Lewis and Tara Fitzgerald.
Knightley's performance was mauled by critics who branded her inexperienced and inadequate, with one harsh reviewer notably accusing the actress of having the "charisma of a serviceable goldfish".
But the actress looks set to return to the same venue, The Comedy Theatre, next year (11) for a production of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour opposite Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss.
Knightley has reportedly told British newspaper the Daily Mail she is looking forward to making her stage comeback, branding the project "very exciting".
The Children's Hour is set in an all-girls boarding school and tells the story of an angry student who runs away and avoids being sent back by telling her family the two headmistresses are having a lesbian affair.
The story was made into a 1961 movie of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.
"The Insider's" Russell Crowe is looking to get the skinny on Claire Danes in the Jodie Foster-directed drama "Flora Plum."
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the actor is in negotiations to join Foster and company on the Depression-era romance, which is slated to begin filming in late summer or early fall.
The story involves a circus freak played by Crowe who falls for a penniless girl (Danes) after taking her in and helping her become a star. Steven Rodgers ("Hope Floats") is the screenwriter.
GOTTA HAVE HART: Melissa Joan Hart's obsession is the 1947 RKO romantic comedy "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer". The teen fave's Heartbreak Films and RKO's independent film arm, Radio Pictures, are teaming up to remake the demi-classic. Hart will star and produce.
The original flick featured Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in the tale of a playboy sentenced by a judge to spend time with the court official's younger sister.
According to the Reporter, the all-new "Bobby-Soxer" will offer a "contemporary look at teen angst." Hart, of ABC's "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," was last seen on the big screen in 1999's "Drive Me Crazy."
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONZE: "Being John Malkovich" director Spike Jonze is investigating "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
According to trade-paper reports, the filmmaker is in final negotiations to make the Paramount Pictures drama. Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter who penned "Malkovich," might reteam with Jonze on the project -- based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Robin Swicord ("Little Women") scripted the initial draft.
Fitzgerald's tale detailed the life of a man who ages backwards. At 50, he falls in love with a 30-year-old woman and is forced to deal with the consequences of their physical dilemma.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that no start date has yet been set.