“Our Idiot Brother,” out in theaters August 26, stars Paul Rudd as Ned, a lovable convict who is sent to jail for selling marijuana to a uniformed cop. Following his release he is booted off the farm by his hostile hippie girlfriend, and so he goes from sister to sister, innocently wreaking havoc.
Rudd has played hilarious turns in “Knocked Up” and “I Love You, Man,” among other movies, but the story is not full of guy gross-out jokes. Instead, “Our Idiot Brother” is a sweet, subtle family comedy, written and directed by adult siblings, Evgenia and Jesse Peretz. Their father is The New Republic Editor Marty Peretz, and they are descendants of the Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz. Keeping it in the family, Evgenia, who is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, wrote the film with her husband, David Schisgall. The Arty Semite spoke to Evgenia and Jesse about sibling rivalry, holy fools, and Paul Rudd’s bar mitzvah.
Gwen Orel: Is this a Jewish Family?
Evgenia Peretz: We weren’t thinking was it Jewish or not. Originally, the mother was a little more based on my mother-in-law, a little bit outspoken, opinionated, you might say a little more Jewish-y. Shirley Knight brought something different to it, which in the end I think worked out really well. She was more earth mother, comforting, rather than another person chiming in with her opinions.