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

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

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.