Preface: I live in an extremely provincial part of Michigan.
Genre: This post is part movie review and part province review/gnashing of teeth
This weekend, my husband and I saw Our Idiot Brother with Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel and many other talented and fun actors. They’re part of the reason I chose the movie. I also chose the movie because it was about a sweet, screw-up idealist and I see some of our oldest son in that description. Well, maybe not the idealist part.
Anyway, the movie was sweet and, as other reviewers have said, predictable. It was a bit like having a PB&J on Wonderbread. Comforting, fairly easy to digest, but not overly nutritionally complex.
It seems to have become a Hollywood truism that Americans will not go to see comedies unless they include male genitalia (thank you, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and general gross-out or shock-value scenes (thank you Judd Apatow). Our Idiot Brother included two shots that were not integral to the plot, but met these two checklist items for reaching comedy audience. In one scene, we see Steve Coogan’s testicles and his rear-end. In another we see Paul Rudd’s character being kissed by a partially-clad woman and her nude boyfriend.
So we’ve passed the lesbian make-out scene (which, being at family dinner, was done in front of sisters, brother, mother and young nephew), Steve Coogan’s testicles and rear-end, and now we’re at the threesome scene. When the young woman is atop Paul Rudd, everything is fine. When her boyfriend enters the bed, still fine. Now the boyfriend begins kissing Paul Rudd’s face and tries to stick his tongue in Rudd’s mouth and out walk three 30/40ish couples.
Really? The rest of the audience tittered. Most were talking about it as we left the theater. Why at that moment?
The more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me. The movie is rated R for sexual content, including nudity and language. The rating is pretty clear about what a viewer can expect.
For these six viewers, nudity must not have been the problem, or they’d have left after the testicles scene. Homophobia could not have been the problem or they’d have left after the lesbian make-out session. Sex must not have been the problem or they’d have left when the half-clad woman was atop Rudd’s character.
So was it the idea of the threesome? If so, why not leave as soon as the boyfriend entered the bed? Or was it that the tongue action between two men was just more than they could handle?
My fear is that, like much of the rest of our country, they could tolerate lesbians kissing, but they were just not going to watch two men kiss. If they had stayed another minute, they would have seen Rudd’s character refusing the whole situation. Because of one unnecessary scene (we knew Rudd’s character was naive without this scene), six people missed out on the joys of a Wonderbread movie about good people trying to be good people.
I wonder how many people will also refuse to see the movie based on the accounts of these six people? That’s what’s missing in much of the political discourse in this country, which is often directed to those Middle America voters who live in towns like mine. In all of the grandstanding about the small stuff, the stuff that stands out as making us different, they miss out on the really important stuff, the stuff that makes us all the same.