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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.