Follow TV Tropes


Film / Our Idiot Brother

Go To

Our Idiot Brother is a 2011 comedy-drama directed by Jesse Peretz, starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer.

Ned Rochlin is an organic farmer who gets busted selling marijuana to a uniformed cop (the cop said he had a rough week) and spends eight months in jail. After getting out and evicted from his ex-girlfriend's farm, he now has to live in Manhattan with his three sisters while he works different odd jobs to get enough money together to rent a goat barn. There's also a subplot of him trying to get his dog back from his ex-girlfriend.

Hilarity Ensues.


The following tropes appear in Our Idiot Brother:

  • Actual Pacifist: Janet claims to be this, making her an extremely rare villainous example. It's mainly because she seems to confuse 'pacifism' with 'passive-aggression'.
    Janet: OK, I'm a pacifist. I don't play that way.
    Miranda: I'm gonna peace you in the side of the fuckin' head you don't give us the dog.
    Janet: I'm not going to receive that with anything but love.
  • The Alcoholic: Downplayed, but Mother Rochlin is seen with a wine glass in all of her scenes except for when the family goes to get Willie Nelson back from Janet.
  • All-Loving Hero: Ned's philosophy is to trust everyone and believe they will 'step up and do the right thing'. His entire family (and Billy) are inspired by this and become better people by the end. His sisters describe him as "Loving everyone and everything unconditionally."
  • Advertisement:
  • Big Applesauce: Where Ned comes to live and, being an All-Loving Hero, he's out of place.
  • But Now I Must Go: Ned announces that he doesn't like living in the city and is moving. "My work here is done."
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Ned doesn't have to be asked; he'll volunteer it.
  • Cool Big Sis: Natalie even though she's younger, she seems to be the closest and nicest to Ned.
  • Cult: Christian's self-help group may be one of these due to the secrecy Christian insists on.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Ned puts up with his sisters belittling him and blaming him for their problems with equanimity for most of the movie, but when he finally gets fed up with them, part of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech revolves around their obliviousness to his feelings.
  • Dumb Is Good: Ned is one of the nicest people in the movie, but he goes into Too Dumb to Live territory. (See below)
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Ned. It's a little hard for him to have a threesome with a girl and her boyfriend, though.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Is there anyone that Ned doesn't like?
  • Heel Realization: Ned's eventual outburst to his sisters about their selfishness during the game of charades visibly shocks and upsets them. But it's about the point that Ned decides he'd rather spend time in prison than be released into their custody when they try to post bail that it sinks in that maybe they've been the bigger assholes in this situation.
  • Jerkass: Filled with them as Ned's filled gets by on selfishness and lying and his ex-girlfriend Janet (holds onto his dog out of spite). While not quite as bad and they eventually get better, Ned's sisters aren't exactly paragons throughout the movie either.
  • Never My Fault: Ned's sisters. While Ned's habit of Saying Too Much does cause genuine problems for them, many of those problems wouldn't exist in the first place if it wasn't for their own selfishness, neuroses, and tendency to lie their way out of tricky situations. Nevertheless, they find it easier to just blame Ned rather than face the possibility that they might have some blame for the ways their lives have worked out.
  • Nice Guy: Exaggerated Trope. Ned is incredibly nice to his dysfunctional family, the people he meets in the city, and even his Psycho Ex-Girlfriend is met more with frustration than actual anger.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Emily Mortimer is clearly not American.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Ned's sisters are visibly taken aback when he screams at them after they make fun of him during the game of charades.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Janet has mastered the technique of being an asshole while being confrontational such as denying her boyfriend his dog without showing him malice.
    • Although not to nearly the same degree, Ned's sisters know how to get passive-aggressive as well.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Downplayed; Janet breaks up with Ned, kicks him off the farm, and refuses to let him have his dog, presumably out of spite, and she's a bitch.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: While snarky, Ned's parole officer Omar Coleman is one of the few people who is nice to Ned.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After living with his neurotic sisters and their blame for messing with their lives, he finally loses his temper and tells that their selfishness is hurting themselves and bringing everyone around them down.
  • Romantic False Lead: Lady Arrabella seems like the resident love interest, but as soon as Ned asks her out, she turns him down and is never seen again, thus keeping the plot focused on the family.
  • Saying Too Much: The plot of the movie is driven by Ned's inability to keep personal details about his family and himself a secret, letting slip incriminating (and even criminal) information at inopportune moments.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Firmly on the idealistic side. Ned is incredibly positive, trusting, unresentful towards people who've hurt him and over just an incredibly kind and sweet-natured person and his behavior rubs off on everyone around him.
  • Title Drop: Provided by Zooey Deschanel.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ned could qualify based on three scenes:
    • Selling a uniformed police officer marijuana. (The cop's tactics were borderline entrapment, as Ned is initially hesitant to sell to him, but it's still a dumb move on Ned's part). His parole officer assumes he's mentally retarded because of it.
    • On a subway in New York, Ned is counting a good chunk of money when he spills something on his pants. He asks the guy sitting next to him to hold his money while he cleans himself up. The guy doesn't steal it, but the look on his face is disbelief and he's clearly pondering running off with the money.
    • Played with towards the end, when he tells his parole officer that he's smoked marijuana since the last time they met, prompting another arrest. While it's definitely dumb, this one may just be him owning up to his actions, having finally gotten worn down by having to deal with his sisters, their issues and their tendency to blame all their troubles on him. By this point, he seemed to prefer going to prison than being with his sisters, having refused to sign the bail.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ned is an idealist in a sea of Jerk Asses and Dysfunction Junction, but by the end, his idealism has rubbed off on all but one of them.