Not as idiotic as I thought it would be
I’m not saying this movie is great. It is not a milestone in road of cinema history. It is not even a cobblestone. On the other hand, it’s not a washed out bridge either. I think the best way to describe this film is with “in-” words. Inoffensive. Pleasantly innocuous. This movie is like watching two dogs play in a park. Fun to watch, but except for a warm, pleasant feeling you won’t gain a lot from it. It sets out to make you feel good, and accomplishes that goal.
I’ll say this has been a lesson for me in the “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” vein, although in this case it’s you can’t judge a movie by it’s poster. I never saw a trailer but when I saw the poster said to myself “There is no way this cannot suck”. I really thought this was another load of excrement dumped into the sewer of bad rated R comedies I have been drowning in all summer. Wrong. It was really not bad. I left the theater feeling OK about the universe.
Not that the movie doesn’t have it’s faults, which I will get into shortly in excruciating detail. I also have a couple of personal issues with the premise, the first being that I have moments of absolute contempt for the whole hippy movement. I grew up in the 80′s, and there was very little that annoyed me more than aging hippies telling me how great the free love was back in the 60′s and 70′s. Sorry, but I couldn’t even talk to a girl without tripping on my tongue back then and the whole free love thing had been replaced by leg warmers and big hair. Listening to some long haired smelly old pot head drone on about it is the equivalent of a rich man going to a Greyhound station and telling everyone how great it is to live in a mansion. Screw you, hippy! (South Park image courtesy of the funny t shirt category).
The other thing about this movie is I have two sisters, and have been called the idiot brother myself. That being said, I don’t think my interaction was ever this weird with my sisters.
Anyway, the movie. Ned (Paul Rudd, who until now has mostly had supporting roles in movies like Knocked Up, the 40 Year Old Virgin, and Dinner for Schmucks) is a Jesus looking smelly (I assume. None that I have known were renowned for their hygiene) hippy who gets busted for selling pot to a uniformed cop. This sounds like the dumbest move ever, and actually threw up a warning flag for me early on, but as you get to know Ned you kind of get where he was coming from. Anyway, he spends eight months in jail and comes out to find that his girlfriend is kicking him out and keeping his dog, Willie Nelson. I mention this because the dog is pretty much the only motivation Ned has to do anything during the entirety of the film. Anyway, he heads into New York city to couch surf with his three dysfunctional sisters: a bitchy, bossy high strung magazine writer (Elizabeth Banks-the 40 Year Old Virgin, Spiderman), a bisexual girl with no apparent job who can’t control her libido (Zooey (Zoo-ey? How do you pronounce that?) Deschanel-Almost Famous, Your Highness, a bunch of other stuff I never heard of), and a downtrodden housewife married to a complete lame, pretentious intelligentsia filmmaker who is working on making some dumb documentary and raising the wimpiest kid in human history (Emily Mortimer-Shutter Island, Lars and the Real Girl, 30 Rock, and a bunch of other movies I never heard of. Her husband is Steve Coogan, from Tropic Thunder and the horrible Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) who also can’t control his libido (relationship betrayal is something of a theme for this movie). Anyway, Ned is a loose cannon in all of their lives, seemingly wrecking them all, but the truth is he is more exposing the hypocrisy they all had riding under the surface. He didn’t cause any of the people with relationships to get into cheating situation. Just exposed it all. Throughout the film he bumbles along with a faith in people and an innocent belief that if you trust each other you won’t get burned. It is kind of annoying at first but by the end I was kind of buying into the vibe (time to go download some Grateful Dead songs, I guess).
Anyway, sibling hijinks ensues. All three sisters have their lives turned upside down and then somehow set back upright again. Ned gets his dog back.
The stars. I felt kind of good watching this movie. I can’t put my finger on why, but I left with a warm feeling in my cold, dark heart. Two stars. All the acting was really good. One star. The dialog felt like brothers and sisters arguing. One star. All the sisters were pretty easy on the eyes, especially Elizabeth Banks, and they had a bunch of other hot sophisticated New York women, particularly my future wife Janet Montgomery (the casting person obviously shared my preferences, as there was not a blond to be seen). One star. There was a supporting hippy character that was actually really funny, and his sisters lesbian girlfriend was pretty cool too (Rashida Jones, whom I fell in love with in the Office). Also his parole officer was cool and added to the film. One star. The dog was really a cool looking dog (a beautiful Golden Retriever). One star. They didn’t try to shove a love story into the film for Ned. One star. Ned’s nephew was in training by is overprotective parents to be a victim for life but kind of turned out cool. One star. Overall a pleasant movie going experience. Two stars. Total: eleven stars.
The black holes. Hippies. One black hole. The love interest for the bitchy magazine sister kind of bugged me. One black hole. The three sisters, in spite of having completely different lives, were kind of interchangeable to the point that I had to struggle to keep track of which one was which. The only one that stood out was the housewife, and that was only because she was the only non-brunette. One black hole. While Ned’s innocence and trust was refreshing, I found myself wanting to reach into the movie and shake him for being such a dope. One black hole. The filmmaker character kind of bugged me too. He was sleazy from the get go and gave the film a greasy feeling every time he was on screen, to it’s detriment (greasy film? Me so funny!). One black hole. Total: five black holes.
Total of six stars, a great score for a Rated R comedy. I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience, and this film is a candidate for best feel good film of the year when I get around to doing my end of the year awards (probably some time in June, given how I keep up on these things). Definitely worth watching, definitely a good date film. It won’t stick in your brain and you won’t be quoting it, however. Nothing in this requires a big screen, so if you want to wait for NetFlix that is cool. Thanks again, and don’t forget to sign up for the RSS feed and follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Talk to you soon.