Step Brothers (2008)
Step Brothers (2008)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: July 25th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Adam McKay Actors: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Andrea Savage

 


 

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-year-old Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell), though far too old to be living at home, still resides with his mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen). And 40-year-old Dale Doback (John C. Reilly), who is also entirely too old not to be independent, still stays with his father, Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins). When Nancy and Robert fall in love and wed, the incredibly indecent, immature, incompetent Brennan and Dale suddenly find themselves as stepbrothers – and rivals. “I just want you to know I hate you.”

“He’s testing you to see how much he can get away with.” Bizarrely, the new family members all choose to live together, forcing Brennan and Dale to share a room, instigating a series of pranks and insults and brinkmanship – and even physical violence. It certainly doesn’t help that they’re both loud, confrontational, hopelessly childish, and habitual liars. “No television for a week!”

Fortunately, however, this ludicrous setup is also the perfect setup for Ferrell and Reilly to do what they do best: act like total buffoons, engaging in wild, destructive lunacy. The supporting characters (attempting a level of contrasting seriousness) all nicely contribute to the madcap misadventures, but they serve a very specific role: to turn the lead man-babies into moderately sympathetic protagonists. Behaviors steadily shift around, turning Dale and Brennan into underdogs of sorts, particularly as they’re the target of bullying by obvious antagonists as well as from unexpected sources.

“It’s time you started acting like adults.” Although very little of this film is based in a sensible reality, it’s consistently amusing to see just how juvenile Ferrell and Reilly’s performances can become; they wholly embrace stupidity, obnoxiousness, and outrageous dialogue – most of which is fittingly R-rated, goofily volatile, and overflowing with raunchy subjects. With the stars also working as the scriptwriters (alongside regular cohort Adam McKay, the director of “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”), they incorporate their typical brand of humor, as well as singing and visual foolishness, structured in a series of slapstick vignettes that don’t always relate to the plot (occasionally just to stretch out the overly simple premise).

“You reek of scotch and cheesecake.” It’s evident that much of this film takes inspiration from “Dumb and Dumber,” joining together two colossal nitwits in a game of moronic oneupmanship and shenanigans, with minimal care for a consequential story. And like that picture, it capitalizes on a handful of hilarious sequences, which tend to stand out more than the project works as a congruous feature-length whole. Even with a certain realistic sadness coursing throughout the silliness – briefly acknowledging the consequences of sustained idiocy, even in the realm of comic fiction – this isn’t the type of movie that possesses much resonance, save for the few exceptionally funny moments hidden amid the general absurdity.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10