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“My Idiot Brother,” Reviewed

“My Idiot Brother,” Reviewed (photo)

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The cast of “My Idiot Brother” is so overstuffed with talent it almost seems unfair, like the film should be subject to some kind of comedy handicap. Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel play a trio of sisters leading lives of various complications in New York City. Steve Coogan, Adam Scott and Rashida Jones appear as their various love interests, Shirley Knight, Kathryn Hahn and others turn up in smaller roles. And, of course, there’s Paul Rudd as the title character, more commonly known as Ned, a farmer of organic produce and pot who in a mixture of stupidity and naive generosity gifts some of his contraband to a uniformed officer who claims to be in need because he’s having a tough week, and who then busts him.

Even when he’s doing smarmy, there’s never a doubt that the majority of the characters Rudd plays are fundamentally nice guys with squishy centers. But Ned is on another level, one washed with a perma-stoned, blissfully optimistic haze. Shaggy, clueless, shorts-wearing and intent on always seeing the best in people, Ned is a hippie holy fool, one who just wants to hang out with his dog Willie Nelson and work on his tomion (a tomato/onion hybrid that will make spaghetti sauce that much easier), but who ends up farmless and dogless after his stint in jail. He stays first with his white wine drunk of a mother (Knight) in Long Island, and then which each of his sisters in succession, accidentally and with the best of intentions wreaking havoc on each of their lives.

With its stars and sleek production values, “My Idiot Brother” could be an Apatow comedy (it was directed by Jesse Peretz, of 2001’s “The Château”), right down to the rueful warmth infused into its portrayals of domestic relationships. But Peretz’s film actually has prominent female characters (the script was co-written by David Schisgall and Peretz’s sister Evgenia) who are there for more than just to scold, ones who are more ambitious and less cripplingly pure of heart than Ned. Mortimer is an overprotective, frazzled mother, Banks a cutthroat magazine writer, Deschanel a hipster flake/would-be stand-up comedian, and they’re so entrenched in these roles that they resent the intrusion of someone who doesn’t grasp the social rules that allow them to operate, and who without meaning to forces them to come to terms with the compromises, moral and otherwise, they make. Ned may be the star, but his sisters actually try to live in this world. They’re the ones that grow and change over the course of the film, and in the current dude-centric state of the comedy, that’s something to see.

“My Idiot Brother” has been acquired for a theatrical release by the Weinstein Company.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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