Our Idiot Brother, directed by Jesse Peretz, is a hilarious comedy. That being said, the movie has a substantive under-current as well.
Ned, played by the masterful Paul Rudd, is an ‘idiot’ only in the eyes of the real world. He is a caricature of sorts – he gets arrested for selling pot to a uniformed police officer, admits to smoking a joint with a kid down the street to his parole officer, restates it when the officer claims he “did not just hear that”, among other non-marijuana related incidents – but Peretz, Rudd, and the screenwriters create such a caricature only to accentuate the Zen-like nature of Ned.
This docile, kind person goes on to completely tear apart the fabric of his siblings’ social lives; however, it is merely a consequence of his innocent, simple (but, as to be revealed, profound) ways. Ned says at one point in the film, “I like to think that if you put your trust out there, I mean if you really give people the benefit of the doubt and see their best intentions, people will rise to the occasion.” This philosophical declaration is one of the few moments within the film that explicitly introduces the audience to the person behind the “idiot.” In actuality, it is only as a result of the manipulation of this doctrine by those around Ned that lead him to all his troubles and his ‘idiot’ moniker. Yet, this vagabond truly is our hero – and if you pay close enough attention, behind all the laughs that arise from his travails, you can maybe learn something about how to live a good and happy life from Our ‘idiot’ brother.