Opening 17 May 2012
There is more to this comedy than first meets the eye. Ned (Paul Rudd) is such a nice guy that he sells cannabis to an undercover policeman after hearing the policeman’s sob story. This action lands him in jail, where he is loved by all. Upon his release, a new life on the bio-farm he owns with his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) is no longer possible. Janet has a new partner, kicks him off the farm and even keeps their dog named Willie Nelson. Anyone else suffering this great loss (especially the loss of the dog) would become depressed. Not Ned. He goes off to Long Island to visit his mom and three sisters, Miranda, Natalie and Liz (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer). His mom makes plans to go shopping (for one button) with him at the mall. Before bedtime, she wishes her mid-thirties son, “Nighty night. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” This is a bit too much even for childish Ned.
He continues his pilgrimage and visits his sisters one after the other. They have all accomplished something in their lives and while they look down upon this hopeless brother, they feel obligated to put up with him, at least in the beginning. These generous feelings later turn into animosity and then, believe it or not, into gratitude, as he reveals their shallow lives for what they really are. Miranda, the perfect housewife and mother, is being cheated upon by her filmmaker husband Dylan. Vanity Fair journalist Natalie owes Ned for an impressive interview, only to be revealed as a fraud who would lie for a scoop. Liz loves her high-powered girlfriend Cindy, but cheats on her with Christian, resulting in a pregnancy. These events are subtle and amusing and build up to a climax where the three sisters realize that their morals rest on shaky grounds, contrary to those of Ned. He is constant in his cheerful belief in the goodness of humanity and ease in instinctively making the right decisions. In the end, they retrieve his dog Willie Nelson and he sets up a new life. The film closes with Ned happily meeting a girl whose dog is named Dolly Parton, so where do you think that will lead? This is an easy-going comedy to enjoy as it flows along. It won’t make any demands on you and if you don’t make any demands either, you’ll come out with a smile. (Becky Tan)