More of the Same for Ferrell and Reilly in Step Brothers
- Friday, July 25, 2008
DVD Release Date: December 2, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: July 25, 2008
Rating: R (for crude and sexual content, and pervasive language)
Run Time: 95 minutes
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hayn, Andrea Savage
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following review contains discussion of adult subject matter that is not appropriate for young readers. Parents, please exercise caution.
As our summer movie season draws to a close, we have the latest superhero film to consider, Clueless Manboys 6. You know the one where our hero, the Will Ferrell character, mindlessly ambles his way through an assortment of life’s crazy problems without the intelligence of wet cement. Yet he still manages to save the world? That’s not right, you say? The film is actually called Step Brothers? And how did you miss Clueless Manboys 1-5?
Consider Elf (Clueless Manboy leaves his home with Santa Claus to try and find his dad in New York City), Anchorman (Clueless Manboy gets a job at a television station in the 1970s), Talladega Nights (Clueless Manboy drives race cars), Blades of Glory (Clueless Manboy learns to figure skate but also develops alcohol and anger management issues), and Semi-Pro (Clueless Manboy owns and plays on a professional basketball team). This shtick is Ferrell’s stock in trade. And now comes Step Brothers, where Clueless Manboy, a.k.a. Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell), has to share a house with another Clueless Manboy, Dale Doback (John C. Reilly). Who will reign supreme?
Not to say that Ferrell and Reilly are not good at this kind of comedy. These two guys can sell their charming obliviousness in practically any situation. There are certainly laugh out loud moments here, like when the Manboys dress up as a Nazi and a Klansman to keep potential homebuyers away. And the film benefits from Ferrell’s partnership with Director Adam McKay, who also directed Anchorman and Talladega. Technically the quality is much better than the more recent Ferrell the Manboy outings. But unfortunately these films just continue to get raunchier and raunchier. Vulgarity is most often lazy comedy. It’s much harder to make people laugh with true wit. Step Brothers borrows heavily from the worldview of the recently popular Judd Apatow films, which seem to be on a mission to determine how much vulgar shock value they can get away with.
In this plot, if you can say a movie like this even has one, the Manboys aren’t placed in a contrived situation, they simply exist. Jobless, 39-year-old Brennan lives with his divorced mom Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) with no purpose in life beyond his existence as a foul-mouthed couch potato. Nancy decides to get married, she and Brennan move in with her new husband Robert (Richard Jenkins) and his son 40-year-old son Dale, also a shiftless manboy. As expected, the two “boys” instantly hate each other and find all sorts of ways to torture one another.
Eventually, having had enough of the brawling, the parents issue an ultimatum: get jobs or else. Of course, having been enabled in this bad behavior for 20 years, Dale and Brennan have no real skills which leads to a ridiculous string of interviews for the two that only showcase their stupidity. The boys finally bond over a mutual hatred of Brennan’s egotistical younger brother Derek and a mutual love of actor John Stamos. Now fast friends they decide to start an entertainment business together, with predictable results.
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