Friday Flicks: Will ‘Our Idiot Brother’ Make a Star Out of Paul Rudd?

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Nicole Rivelli / The Weinstein Company

Paul Rudd in "Our Idiot Brother"

Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

Our Idiot Brother

Tagline: Everybody has one.

Why isn’t Paul Rudd a bigger star — a genuine A-Lister who can open movies merely on the back of his name? It’s not as if he hasn’t appeared in some of the best-known comedies of recent years (I Love You, Man, Role Models, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Knocked Up), to say nothing of a recurring role on a certain sitcom called Friends. But is it his destiny to be forever known as that guy? You know, the one you can never quite name.

Or will that fate forever change with the release this week of Our Idiot Brother? Rudd plays Ned the organic farmer, who isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the box. Recently released from prison (“They let me go early! I won most cooperative inmate four months running!”) after selling pot to a uniformed cop, as well as being set free (a.k.a dumped) by his girlfriend, he re-enters the lives of his sisters by couch-surfing. Liz (Emily Mortimer) is married with kids, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is the ambitious writer and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) lives with her girlfriend (Rashida Jones). Yea, he’s sure to make himself at home.

Forgiveness seems to be the watchword, both in the narrative terms of the movie as well as the audience’s acceptance of any flaws, for there may not have been a more likable cast in the history of cinema. But the success of Our Idiot Brother will depend entirely on whether Rudd can carry the movie on his well-intentioned shoulders. “You know what?” he intones at one point. “Wow.” We wish him well but that will be our reaction if this becomes the smash hit that propels Rudd to the top of Hollywood’s wish list.

(MORE: See TIME’s full review of Our Idiot Brother)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Tagline: Fear Is Never Just Make Believe

If Our Idiot Brother is a vehicle for its on-screen male lead, is Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark reliant on producer and co-writer Guillermo del Toro? Moviegoers will be hoping that yet another story of a young girl, Sally (Bailee Madison) and her father Alex and his partner Kim (Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes) having the bejesus scared out of them by some scary creatures will have the same impact as his masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth.

Directorial duties, however, go to Troy Nixey in this remake of the 1973 telefilm. Pearce and Holmes are nearly done with their restoring of Blackwood Manor but Sally hears voices calling out to her from the basement (spoiler alert: they’re not so much disgruntled handymen, but monsters who want to be set free). And one thing’s for sure: it’s a far cry from “If you build it, they will come.”

Naturally, Sally does the right thing and warns all concerned about the Pandora’s Box she’s opened. But, in accordance with any horror film, nobody believes her. Sadly for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the eventual showdown fails to satisfy precisely because the creatures don’t seem like the kind that would even say boo to a goose. Ultimately, the only star on show isn’t so much the cast, director or producer del Toro, but the house itself. And that’s not a foundation to build upon.

(PHOTOS: The Master of Horror, George Romero)

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: It’s almost impossible to resist Paul Rudd’s charms, so Our Idiot Brother wins the week.

Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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