‘Our Idiot Brother’: A family, in the weeds
Call it “The Trouble with Hippies.” Paul Rudd’s new film, “Our Idiot Brother,” follows a hapless idealist (Rudd) who, after serving time for selling pot to a uniformed police officer, proceeds to crash with each of his three sisters (played by Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer and Zooey Deschanel), wreaking havoc on their carefully constructed New York City lives in the process.
The trick to achieving the film’s believable bond between the siblings, Rudd insists, was not having any money to make the film. “I’m sure it bummed them out a little bit sometimes, but we benefited from being a pretty low-budget movie and not having trailers and places for people to escape and be alone and forced everyone to hang out with each other all the time,” he says. “It could have backfired and they could have hated each other, but luckily everyone really enjoyed each other.”
For some in the cast, though, it wasn’t just the working conditions that made the story accessible. Banks admits she felt some serious deja vu when she the script. “I am the oldest, bossiest daughter of a family of four. I have two sisters, one of whom is a divorced mother of two, and one of whom lives in Brooklyn with four roommates,” she says. “I have a 26-year-old brother who sells pizza and maybe something else while delivering those pizzas. Yes, I really connected to the film in a deep way.”
She could also relate to Ned, she admits, as she’s no stranger to causing strife by saying the wrong thing to the wrong family member. A particular email about one her sister’s wedding comes to mind: “Basically I was like, ‘When we go to the wedding, we’re just going to make the best of a bad situation.’ My sister ended up on the email forward and wrote me back, reply-all, ‘I really wish I didn’t know this was how you were coming to my wedding,’” she says. “Needless to say, I was not in the wedding at my sister’s wedding, nor was my other sister.”