Chaotic Q&A session follows Sundance debut of Paul Rudd's 'My Idiot Brother'

Paul-Rudd-Idiot-Brother-SundanceImage Credit: George Pimentel/Getty Images A Sundance screening of My Idiot Brother had its own share of idiots in the audience. The Paul Rudd comedy about a lovable, dimwitted guy who causes havoc for his three uptight sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel) got modest laughs and a warm, if not overwhelming, reception when it debuted Saturday night. But it’s festival tradition for the filmmakers and cast to take the stage after a screening and field questions from the crowd.

That’s when things got weird.

UPDATE: My Idiot Brother was later picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Co.

As Rudd squinted in disbelief from the stage, the first woman to take the auditorium microphone to ask a question didn’t really have anything to say about the movie — she wanted Rudd to agree to be in an animal protection public service announcement she is shooting. “I had to take a chance,” she said.

The audience groaned, but … okay. Everybody loves animals, after all, and Sundance is a close-knit event; stars are accessible, and would-be filmmakers are expected to hustle and try to make connections. It was an inappropriate public forum to make such a request, but having taken the chance, the woman was expected to shrug and pass the mic to the next person. But she persisted.

“It’s a good deal, it’s a good deal,” she said, and as the audience audibly shifted and booed. Then she followed up — astoundingly — with a dig at the film, focusing on a scene where Rudd passes out while sitting in a steam room with a self-help group. “I do have to tell you though, too: as a professional speaker, we don’t all put people around pots with coals and stuff…”

Rudd laughed, saying “yeah, for sure,” despite being put on the spot before 1,200 moviegoers.

“Anyway, Paul, I just had to throw it out there, so you wouldn’t be able to reject me later,” the woman said as the moderator — finally — went to the next question. The audience breathed a sigh of relief, at least until the middle-aged gentleman holding the microphone began to speak.

Idiot-Brother-Deschanel-Banks-SundanceImage Credit: George Pimentel/Getty Images It’s not enough to describe his “question” as a rambling, nonsensical rant. For your enjoyment, here it is verbatim: “In regards to the role of Liz by Emily, I sort of, whatever anyone else actually thinks, there’s a lot of drama, you know, and whatever you utilize in education, or objective, whatever you had to go through that Liz went through, when you finished after, after the day was done and you were Emily again, is there a sense in the industry of where you finish up back to your other life, I mean, how the parts are locked? Even comedies you see that, reality, you go through a lot of serious stuff because you have to make it personal, not just to Emily, but to Zooey or anyone. Is there a method that you guys use to get yourself back to reality? And I wanted to ask Dexter this on the streets of Los Angeles …”

And so it went on. (The picture above shows Deschanel doing her impression of a question mark.) The moviehouse was a field of perplexed faces. (Was he talking about Michael C. Hall, the star of Showtime’s Dexter?) Groans began to drown out The Sundance Rambler who, for the record, did not seem nervous; rather, he was blankly oblivious, even to the revolt brewing among the hundreds seated around him.

Mortimer stepped forward to respond with the only possible answer: “Can you repeat the question?”

It got as big a laugh as anything in the movie.

Deschanel tried to save the day. “He wants to know how you let go of your emotions as an actress when you go home at night,” she said. Mortimer gamely tried to answer, but the damage was done. People couldn’t get out of there fast enough, the cast and filmmakers included.

By the end, when someone asked a related, coherent question — What about the script made each of the actors want to do it? — the remaining crowd responded with a round of applause.

More on My Idiot Brother from EW:
My Idiot Brother at Sundance: See Lisa Schwarzbaum’s reaction

Comments (32 total) Add your comment
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  • EH!!!!

    I LOVE PAUL RUDD!

    And Zooey!

    Can’t wait to see this movie! ♥

  • Wes

    HA! I feel bad for them, but it’ll be a great story to tell afterwards. It seems like a good film, and I can’t wait for the wide release.

  • LOL

    Film festival crowds are just as bad as the crowds at your local multi-plex. Who’d a thunk it?

  • Ed

    This time the questions were just awkward and funny, but I will never forget the time I was at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas when an audience member took to the mic and casually informed Kate Mulgrew that a mutual acquaintance had died. The audience of 2000+ was stunned into total silence as Kate dissolved into tears on the stage. There should be attendants at these types of events to pre-screen questions and to yank the mic out of the clueless idiot’s hands as soon as things start to go downhill.

    • Kathryn

      Wow…

    • sally

      that’s horrible!

    • Japanese Japanese HIROSHI

      @Ed: Thanks for sharing. IMO, that very audience member should have known better.
      @Anthony: Thanks for a good read. Deschanel sounds like a nice lady. Will check out the flick when it comes chez moi (in East Asia). Good to see Rudd and Banks back again.

  • jmcg

    Do they screen these people before they let them in and give them a microphone? And those “sisters” look nothing alike; I don’t know how much creditability it will give the movie.

    • GLRoss

      My sisters and I look nothing alike yet we’re still siblings. The point is they don’t have to look like twins for the movie to have credibility.

    • Linney

      I have 4 sisters. 1 is a redhead, 1 is a blonde, 3 of us are brunettes. 2 have spiral curly hair, 2 have wavy hair and I have pin straight hair. Same two parents. I think we prove there is credibility in siblings not looking alike.

      • stacy

        Question: Does the carpeting match the drapes?

      • Linney

        Indeed.

  • Brian E.

    This is why I LOATHE audience Q&As. There’s always, always at least one who asks a rambling, incoherent question, a super nerdy continuity-obsessed “In episode 128 you fired the Zeton ray but in episode…” question or the jsut plain squirm-inducing uncomfortable question.

    Just have a moderator ask the kind of questions we want (like that last one that got applause).

    • Xena

      A wizard did it.

      • Brian E.

        Win ^

  • Carrie

    At Comic-Con in NE last Fall, some strange dude said that Andy Hallett was from his town, and had Charisma Carpenter gone to the funeral, because the guy had been there. She was extremely uncomfortable– UNDERSTANDABLY, because it was both a saddening question and one that was totally inappropriate as the guy continued to reference the funeral and his town. After his question was over, he got up and asked two more horrible ‘questions.’ Someone should have stopped him after the first one. I don’t mind that there aren’t screenings, but moderators should work harder to stop people who clearly have nothing to say.

  • gayskeleton

    It is very normal for the crowd at any event to be abnormal. That’s why they are in the audience and not on the stage. And that was some breaking news, Edward R. Murrow. Chaotic? Hyperbole more like it.

    • James

      What you said makes about as much sense as that guy’s question. Why would it be normal for people in the audience to be abnormal?

  • Meg

    At least they didn’t ask Team Jacob or Team Edward preferences.

  • tracy bluth

    Zooey’s face in that picture is beyond adorable.

  • spence

    rudds so talented and versatile. can’t wait for the film. screening the questions would of helped.

  • film4future

    I ALWAYS hold my breath during Q&A’s and feel thankful when it’s normal and no crackpot takes the mic. It all depends on the moderator. The person has to maintain control and move fast if it’s a weird question. Otherwise, it’s agony.

  • Mole

    Paul was probably longing for the old days of his stage career, when the most annoying questions at talk-backs are innocuous things like, “How did you learn all those lines?”

  • Sandra

    Why must Elizabeth Banks be in EVERYthing?? She’s becoming like Jennifer Aniston, who will take any role and looks the exact same in every one. Too much. She already ruined 30 Rock; what’s next? Can’t she just be a little pickier so people aren’t so tired of her?

    • Sal

      Everything? Maybe two years ago, not so much now.

    • Linney

      Hey there, genius, she’s an actor. She’s gonna be in things. If you don’t like it, turn the channel. And while you’re at it, chill out. You don’t even know her and you’re flipping out on a comment page for an article that barely mentions her.

    • Jack

      I agree with you. There are some actors/actresses I don’t like because they’re the jack of all trades, master of none. Take every role, none of them memorable or well done.

  • Sofia

    Same thing happened last year at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of “Every Day” with Liev Schreiber and Helen Hunt. It was ridiculous and the most embarrassing (as an audience member with more than 2 braincells to rub together) scene I’d ever seen and been stuck in. The barrage of stupid questions were bemusing, to say the least! How bad was it you say? Well, the last question in the panel was from a Southeast Asian man who could barely speak English, and he said: “WHY DID YOU BURN BRIAN DENNEHY?! WHY DID YOU BURN HIM!?!”–Yeah. I’m not even exaggerating with the capslock. He yelled it into the microphone. It was amazing and painful at the same time.

    • Brian

      I don’t play an instrument or sing but I now so totally want to start a band just to call it “WHY DID YOU BURN BRIAN DENNEHY?!”

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