Ned lived a happy life growing organic vegetables on a farm with his hippie girlfriend and his dog named Willie Nelson, but an unadvised incident with marijuana at a farmer's market lands him in jail. When he gets out of jail, he is off to live with his sisters. While Ned is still happy, his sisters are much less so after his honest, but unworldly manner contributes to revelations which manage to expose infidelity in one marriage, potentially illegal actions in one job opportunity, dishonesty in one budding relationship and morally unpleasant behaviour in one domestic partnership. He sees those problems as breakdowns in communication, but his sisters see him as an idiot. The truth the audience witness is that ultimately, Ned is a catalyst for good around him without consciously setting out to do so. The denouement of the film sees balance restored with a positive outcome for all in the family.Written by
A hilarious movie written for Paul Rudd: what more could we want?
Rudd plays Ned, a stoner who has frizzled his neurons to the point that he has lost any ability to detect or dish out B.S. The poster child for what it means to be ingenuous, Ned is a trusting, playful, adorable stray puppy who isn't quite housebroken. So you-know-what hits the fan when his three sisters serially take him in after his release from jail. He's nothing but tsuris. It's no wonder that his most enduring relationship is with his dog, Willie Nelson.
Thanks to Rudd's everyman persona and the genial obliviousness he brings to Ned, you can't help but feel empathy. As with a suspense film where the audience knows what's going to happen but the characters are still in the dark, you want to yell out to warn Ned before he screws up again. His perfect comic timing and the made-to-order script make sure you get the most laughs from his predicament. Luckily, there's more to him than just bad luck. He's also an endearing white angel on the shoulders of his sisters, helping them fight their devils as he becomes an unwitting catalyst for change.
The movie's impressively talented and good-looking cast includes Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Elizabeth Banks (looking a lot like Parker Posey) as sisters. What's more, Rashinda Jones and Hugh Dancy add to the already high eye-candy quotient. Steve Coogan plays Ned's deliciously distasteful brother-in-law in his inimitable unpleasant-guy way.
The film is smartly directed by Jesse Peretz from a story he developed with his sister, Evgenia Peretz. I saw this at the Sundance screening in Brookline, Massachusetts, where director Peretz said they wrote it for Rudd, whom he clearly enjoys working with, and who wouldn't? Even though they stuck to the script, Rudd improvised at least two of the movie's funniest bits.
A fun ride throughout, the film only has a couple of weak spots. One scene has Ned comfortably telling a white lie, something so out of character it was jolting to the point of distraction. The ending could use some reshaping, and perhaps it might get some before general release. But even as is, this movie is about as charming and hilarious as Rudd can be, which is quite sizable.
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