Step Brothers

"OK"

Step Brothers Review


You know you're in trouble when the George W. Bush quote you open your movie with ("Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream") gets the evening's biggest laugh.

It's no stretch to call Adam McKay's Step Brothers the year's stupidest film. Part of me feels bad labeling it as such, but then I remember that no movie boasting scenes of a grown man licking dog feces really wants to be taken seriously on any level.

And yet, I'd be lying if I told you Brothers didn't make me laugh. Freed from the shackles of having to follow an actual script -- McKay receives a "story" credit alongside co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, which is kind of a joke in and of itself -- the cast can improvise with reckless abandon. But you have to tolerate a fair share of imbecilic drivel before uncovering a few choice lines, as when Reilly tells Ferrell his singing voice is "like a combination of Fergie and Jesus."

Brothers marks McKay's third feature-length collaboration with Ferrell, and the two have found a formula they're comfortable with. They establish the comedian as a thin-skinned, overgrown adolescent -- an egotistical anchorman, or a delusional NASCAR driver -- then rattle his cage by introducing stiff competition.

Step Brothers establishes the rules of its game before you're even settled in your seat. Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) meet while attending a medical convention and bond over the fact that they both have 40-year-old boys who haven't left the nest. Deeply in love following a whirlwind weekend, the two get married -- forcing disgruntled Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) to live under the same roof.

So, who are these guys? Well, Brennan's a sensitive songbird whose dream of performing was crushed at an early age by younger brother Derek (Adam Scott, hilarious in the role that usually goes to Will Arnett). And Dale's a bully, the petulant aggressor whose tipping point appears whenever anyone touches his drum set. The fact that Brennan eventually touches Dale's kit in a fit of rage comes as no surprise. What he uses to handle the drums I'll leave for you to discover.

An ancient advertising campaign for the New York lottery used to tout, "All you need is a dollar and a dream." Reduced to fit the Ferrell box office lottery, all you need is a few studio dollars and a wafer-thin premise. The core of Step Brothers sounds more like a pitch you'd bring to a studio meeting, not a finished film. And if you are hoping this goes any deeper than the one-line summary, you're reading about the wrong film.

After McKay and his crew thoroughly exhaust all originality in the setup, which occurs roughly 10 minutes in, Step Brothers collapses into a haze of brutal slapstick, degrading insults, and ghastly bodily-fluid jokes. Cheap shots for a cheap film. Brothers looks like it was shot in McKay's backyard, with the cast reaching into their own closets and filling backgrounds with vintage props bought at a neighborhood flea market.

I'm always amazed when esteemed actors such as Kathy Bates, Robert Duvall, or Ving Rhames agree to play hillbillies, bullies, and closeted homosexuals in Ferrell or Adam Sandler vehicles. What scripts did Steenburgen reject so she'd have the opportunity to blurt "What the (bleep)ing (bleep)" in this film? And if Jenkins wonders why the Academy overlooks his intricate performance in Thomas McCarthy's The Visitor come Oscar season, he need only pop Brothers into the nearest DVD player and skip to the scene where he bends Ferrell over and spanks his behind.

As much as I want to dismiss this movie outright, I can't. Blind squirrels like Ferrell and Reilly do find an occasional nut (sadly, I'm being literal). And the movie closes on a high note, showing the buffoonish leads taking out an army of school-age bullies like Bruce Lee mowing down opponents in Enter the Dragon.

"I wish we had these when we were 12," Brennan says to Dale in one scene, referring to a pair of night vision goggles the siblings wear around the house.

"Why? We have them when we're 40," Dale replies.

The character is talking about the expensive toys. But Reilly's talking about his and Ferrell's man-child career trajectories, which show no signs of stopping.

You will notice there is no P in our OOL.



Step Brothers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th July 2008

Box Office USA: $100.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $128.1M

Budget: $65M

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: Gary Sanchez Productions, Mosaic Media Group, Relativity Media, Apatow Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 101 Rotten: 81

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Brennan Huff, John C. Reilly as Dale Doback, as Nancy Huff, as Dr. Robert Doback, as Derek, as Alice, as Denise, as Randy, as Sporting Goods Manager, Logan Manus as Chris Gardoki, Lurie Poston as Tommy, Shira Piven as Nurse, as Blind Man

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.