IDIOT BROTHER

01.23.11

My Idiot Brother’s Idiotic Audience

Paul Rudd’s new comedy is attracting plenty of interest, but the most laughs came during the cast’s Q&A session.

Day four of Sundance brings with it a reprieve from the snow dump of Saturday and the festival’s first, big-deal sale. Hooray!

The winner? Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy, which Nikki Finke’s Deadline reported was sold to Paramount and Indian Paintbrush for about $4 million this morning. Another deal that closed early Sunday was for the Kevin Spacey financial thriller Margin Call, which went to Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

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Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel (Matt Fischer/SundanceChannel.com)

Paramount execs were also spotted at the premiere of Jesse Peretz’s off-beat comedy My Idiot Brother last night, as was Harvey Weinstein, who was huddled with a circle of execs, all frantically texting. (Yesterday, Harvey was our official Good Samaritan, when, chatting on his cellphone with one hand, carrying a liter bottle of water in the other, he assisted one of our fleet—who was being barred from a screening by an overzealous volunteer—and swooped her in under his arm into the movie theater.) A source confirmed several buyers are circling My Idiot Brother—starring Paul Rudd as a sweet but do-nothing brother who unwittingly wreaks havoc on the lives of his sisters (Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Elizabeth Banks)—with a deal likely soon. Reviews have been mixed, with the general consensus that the movie will certainly play, given its star-studded cast, but is no Little Miss Sunshine.

Indeed, most interesting about the premiere last night was the Q&A session that followed.

A ritual at Sundance, Q&As allow members of the audience to grab a mic and toss questions at the filmmakers and stars, who line up on stage like contestants in a beauty pageant. Sometimes illuminating, sometimes not, many of us have been guilty of scanning our BlackBerrys during the process, particularly when actors launch into “I was so inspired by the script” monologues, or directors start thanking their personal chefs.

There was no BlackBerry scanning last night. The absurdity kicked right off, when Questioner No. 1 bluntly asked Paul Rudd—a big animal activist (who knew?)—to speak the following day at an animal-rescue PSA event. Rudd awkwardly tried to simultaneously joke about and evade the question, and was mercifully saved by festival director John Cooper, who interrupted with a terse: “Perhaps Paul would feel more comfortable talking with you privately afterwards.”

Questioner No. 2 was worse, launching into a circuitous, minutes-long question posed first at Mortimer, then at Deschanel, then at the whole cast, and had something to do with the creative process. We think. Mortimer drew laughs when she asked the man to repeat himself and then Deschanel jumped in and graciously cleaned up the mess.

By the time a young fella up in the balcony yelled down to Jones, asking her why she decided to wear glasses in the movie, the cast was visibly uncomfortable, and the crowd rowdy. Cooper quickly wrapped things up with a thank you, and good night.