Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Andrea Savage
Screenplay written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, based off a story by Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Adam McKay
Directed by Adam McKay
Generally every time that a new Will Ferrell movie comes out, I'm subjected to a ridiculous amount of advertising in relation to the movie, mostly in the form of commercials that barely register with me as they're filled with the most ridiculous scenes and absurd dialogue. Those commercials never highlight the little things that make me want to pay to see a movie, like scene-stealing bit players or awkwardly delivered lines, things like that. Eventually I'll see the movie though, because there is something about the Frat Pack movies and Judd Apatow productions that intrigue me. I know that no matter how bad it may appear to be on the outside, when Apatow is involved with a film, at the very least I'll think it's just average.
Step Brothers was a bit of a different beast, as I thought the R-rated trailer that I saw a couple months ago was filled with comedic promise. John C. Reilly was absolutely perfect in Walk Hard, and the idea of Dewey Cox being the step-brother to a weird mash-up of Ron Burgundy and Buddy the Elf was enough to make me want to see Step Brothers. Thankfully, my non-paying gig as a movie czar (I actually prefer movie guru) led to me lucking into some free passes to a preview screening.
This movie reunites Ferrell with his Talladega Nights and Anchorman director, Adam McKay, and had I remembered that awhile back, my enthusiasm for Step Brothers might have been dampened considerably. Thankfully I went into the movie with hardly any preconceived expectations for the movie. Well that's not entirely true. I knew that there were going to be at least six strikingly funny scenes from what I saw in the trailer, and I was holding out hope that the entire movie would be a laugh riot.
Nancy Huff (Steenburgen) and Dr. Robert Doback (Jenkins) are two middle-aged single parents who meet and fall in love over the shared embarrassment of both having their 40-year-old sons still living with them. Brennan Huff (Ferrell) has been raised to be a petulant mama's boy with almost zero knowledge of how to survive in the outside world. Dale Doback (Reilly) is like a man-child version of a lumberjack or trucker, and both boys seem to hate each other on first sight. Eventually, a shared hatred of Brennan's younger, more successful brother Derek (Scott) brings the two step brothers together and wacky hijinks ensue that threaten to tear the family apart.
I realise now that I'm being spoiled by these Apatow-produced and directed movies, as generally flicks in the wacky comedy genre tend to pull their punches and don't deliver full belly laughs from being surprised at the audaciousness of the dialogue or situations. With every well-placed f-bomb and concussion-inducing injury or absurd and off-putting situation, I eagerly drink up more of the Apatow-flavoured Kool-Aid. The sheer fun that Ferrell and Reilly put into their performances make the movie all the more enjoyable that it rightfully should be.
It's not a perfect movie by any means, since if you really stop to think about it, the main characters should actually be loathed and mocked, not celebrated. Thankfully, Ferrell puts more Buddy than Burgundy into his performance so Brennan doesn't come across as unlikable. Reilly was great as usual, Jenkins delivered his usual decent if not noteworthy performance, and Mary Steenburgen kind of freaked me out every time she was onscreen. Adam Scott was particularly loathsome as the super-successful asshat brother, and generally everyone played their role to maximize the funny.
For a movie of this type, it is super hard to get a perfect score in my ratings books. A movie like There's Something About Mary would rate full marks from me, and while I enjoyed Step Brothers, it was no Mary. Hell, it wasn't even an Out Cold, but it wasn't a waste of my time and I enjoyed it for what it was. And me typing that the way that I did is why I come across as a pretentious movie snob.
3 / 5