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Our Idiot Brother a clever comedy

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After the likes of The Change-Up and The Hangover Part II (to name but two of a million), I was beginning to give up on ever again seeing any "man-child" movies that offered anything of value. Thank goodness, then, for Our Idiot Brother, which realizes there's more to this type of tale than scatological gags. Paul Rudd plays Ned, a clueless free spirit whose behavior alternately endears him to and alienates him from his three sisters: ladder-climbing reporter Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), frazzled wife and mother Liz (Emily Mortimer) and slightly ditzy bisexual Natalie (Zooey Deschanel). The film initially seems as shaggy and aimless as its protagonist, but it improves as it continues, with director Jesse Peretz having secured the right performers for virtually every role (Steve Coogan lends sneering support as Liz's unfaithful husband, while Rashida Jones is quietly effective as Natalie's brainy lover). And while the movie coulda/shoulda been longer than its scant 90 minutes, it's actually surprising just how much memorable material scripters Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall pack into the piece. For a movie centering on an unabashed clod, it's a fairly intelligent work.

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