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

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

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.