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Step Brothers Movie Review: Boy Humor at Its Finest
By Joseph Marchelewski - July 25, 2008

Step Brothers with Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly
Step Brothers with Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly
 
John C. Reilly & Will Ferrell Fighting in Step Brothers
John C. Reilly & Will Ferrell Fighting in Step Brothers
 
John C. Reilly & Will Ferrell Bonding in Step Brothers
John C. Reilly & Will Ferrell Bonding in Step Brothers
 
John C. Reilly & Will Ferrell Healing in Step Brothers
John C. Reilly & Will Ferrell Healing in Step Brothers
In a summer filled with big action blockbusters, Will Ferrell stars in Step Brothers, a comedy just trying to get a few laughs. Step Brothers, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, is 100% a guy's movie. Any review or critique of this film has got to start there. Like a Thanksgiving dinner, Step Brothers comes complete with all the fixins’: bathroom humor, foul language, gross sexual innuendo and oddball violence.

Step Brothers, written and directed by Adam McKay, who also directed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy and Talladega Nights, tells the story of two sons, both from single parent homes. When their parents marry each other, they are forced to join into a new family unit, and right away they both decide to hate each other. The catch is, one step brother is 40 while the other is 39. The image of these two overgrown teenagers playing drums, getting beaten up by school kids and dreaming of a family band is hilarious.

Brennan Huff, played by Will Ferrell, is an occasionally employed mama's boy who wears unicorn shirts, has dreams of becoming a singer, and hates his incredibly successful, arrogant and abusive brother Derek (played by Adam Scott). Dale Doback, played by John C. Reilly, has never really had a job, sleeps until noon and has an intense passion for drumming. On the surface, you'd think these two would feel at home with each other, but of course we know better. From the beginning of Step Brothers, when the two are informed that they will be roommates, an intense hatred surfaces which culminates in a fierce showdown on the family's front lawn. However, when Dale stands up to Brennan's brother, an alliance is formed.

Mary Steenburgen (Elf) and Richard Jenkins (Fun with Dick and Jane) play Nancy and Robert, the parents of these two delinquent, middle-aged losers. Seth Rogen also makes a brief cameo in a scene comprised of purely “guy humor.” Kathryn Hahn, who had a small part in Anchorman, has a much larger and disturbing role in Step Brothers as Alice, the wife of Derek.

Step Brothers includes typical Will Ferrell one-liners such as "Your voice is like Fergie mixed with Jesus," and "If you were a chick, who’s the one guy you would sleep with? John Stamos!" It's almost as if Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, co-writers of Step Brothers, Talladega Nights and Anchorman dream of millions of American males repeating their quotes all day long. If that is their goal, then they have written more than enough to keep young men occupied for months.

The situations in Step Brothers are amazingly funny. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly get beaten up by a group of grade-schoolers, Ferrell and Reilly repeatedly try to kill one another, they record a rap video onboard Reilly's dad's boat and so on. Step Brothers culminates in a scene involving opera, Catalina Island and a major family crisis.

While the laughs come through, the story is a bit weak, and that is being polite. Step Brothers is almost a series of Saturday Night Live-esque skits, albeit funny ones, where the two brothers find themselves in situations where comedy, of course, ensues. While this is good at first, the premise and timing fall through about thirty minutes into the film. After watching the movie, I was astonished when I saw that it was only 95 minutes in length. The middle portion of Step Brothers took forever, because the story simply had no meat.

Unfortunately, from time to time, both of these comedic actors seemed too big for the film, and not in a good way. In Talladega Nights, the duo fit perfectly into their roles, and the surrounding cast supported them well. It is as if the script for Step Brothers simply said "Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are in a room together while improving." This is fine if it's a scene or two, but not throughout the entire film. The story in Step Brothers almost gets in the actors’ way.

That being said, most guys will go to see this film to laugh at pranks, fights, shenanigans, and the site of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly performing "martial arts" in their garage. It's obviously a film built upon the comedic talents of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, and for the most part that strategy does succeed.

“Step Brothers”
Rated R. Runtime 95 min. Theatrical release 7/25/2008.

PR.com Rating: C+

Step Brothers Movie Review: Boy Humor at Its Finest


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