Thursday, August 7, 2008

Step Brothers (2008)

* * * *

Another summer, and the Judd Apatow train keeps on chugging. The Apatow posse has grown larger and larger with each subsequent hit film, but with Step Brothers, he brings out his top guns Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, and pairs them with one of his best directors, Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, The Landlord). This deadly comedic combination could make laughs out of seemingly any premise, and Step Brothers is more of a testament to that statement than one could imagine. Ferrell and Reilly play 40+ year old men still living with and mooching from their mom and dad, respectively. When the mother and father, played by Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), fall in love and get married, Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) become Step Brothers and move into the same house. And really, thats all there is to the film. The premise itself is just an excuse to get Reilly and Ferrell on the screen at the same time. For nearly anyone else this would be a cop-out and a flop, but for this, its a riot. Both actors are at the top of their game, delivering their immature, profane, and offensive humor in large, near-constant doses. Despite starring in Walk Hard, the under-appreciated Reilly still seems to be flying under the radar. But make no mistake, he is every bit as funny as Ferrell in this film, holding his own and sometimes even outshining him. Most often, though, the two complement each other near perfectly, making a powerful comedy tag-team. There is plenty of gross-out physical humor, and brilliantly vulgar lines that will defy the imagination of even the most raunchy minds. After wading in PG-13 territory for a few films, its nice to see Ferrell return to the land of the F-Bomb, and Reilly picks up right where he left off with Dewey Cox. Although Jenkins and Steenburgen provide a few laughs as the parents, and a turn by Adam Scott as Brennan's younger, more successful, completely over the top brother sets up Ferrell for some great scenes, the film almost comes across as a two-man comedy hour that just happens to have some other actors around to take up space. The story, for the most part, is completely typical, and because of the abundance of laugh-out-loud humor, it doesn't really matter. For the same reason though, those who don't have a taste for Ferrell's adult humor will have almost nothing left to enjoy. This isn't a great film in the sense of modern cinema, and its not meant to be. The bulk of the intelligence on-hand is the bizarre creativity required to write and recite uniquely vulgar lines, vulgarity no 14 year old or frat boy has yet dreamed of. This also isn't Apatow or Ferrell's finest moment, but Step Brothers may just go down as the cult-classic of the Apatow collection. The storyline isn't nearly as original or clever as the 40 Year Old Virgin, Anchorman, or Talladega Nights, but there are just as many memorable quotes as a 2-hour stand-up comedy special, which is what Step Brothers essentially is.

Good for: Apatow fans, Ferrell fans, immature people

Bad for: serious people, deep thinkers

The Gallery
The Surfer: * * * *
The Film Maker: * * *
The Writer * * * *

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