Opens: Friday 8/26
Us Rating: ***
Ned (Paul Rudd) is sweet, sunny and honest. Yet he manages to wreak havoc on his sisters' lives in this lightweight and appealing late-summer comedy. The fun starts when the ne'er-do-well farmer gets arrested for selling pot to a cop, ends up in jail, then turns to the women (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer) for cash and a place to crash.
Playing his most selfish sibling, Banks brings a delicious bite to her high-strung Vanity Fair journalist, who watches in exasperation as Ned horns in on her coveted interview with a posh celebrity. Meanwhile, Deschanel's whiny stand-up comedian struggles to commit to her lawyer girlfriend (Rashida Jones, in a thankless role), and Mortimer's bad marriage to a louse (Steve Coogan) has turned her into a snippy, frumpy housewife.
Though it's hard to believe good-natured Ned shares DNA with any of these shrews, there's a palpable warmth in this dysfunctional family. Leave it to the fun-loving, twinkly-eyed Rudd to hold the whole clan -- and the movie -- together.
-- MARA REINSTEIN