More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.88%
Worth A Look51.22%
Average: 39.02%
Pretty Bad: 2.44%
Total Crap: 2.44%

5 reviews, 11 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Everybody Knows by Jay Seaver

Alita: Battle Angel by Peter Sobczynski

Integrity by Jay Seaver

Happy Death Day 2U by Peter Sobczynski

Arctic by Jay Seaver

Punk Samurai Slash Down by Jay Seaver

Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, The by Rob Gonsalves

High Flying Bird by Peter Sobczynski

Tito and the Birds by Peter Sobczynski

Lego Movie 2, The by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

Step Brothers
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"These Guys Are Insane And I Love 'Em For It"
4 stars

In some cultures, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay would be locked up. Another reason to support my theory that culture is stupid and does more harm than good. If you’re laughing then some might feel you’re the target audience for the absurdist comedies they’ve put together, beginning in classic fashion with Anchorman, the somewhat underappreciated Talladega Nights and web favorites, Green Team and The Landlord (featuring the drunk baby threatening Ferrell with eviction.) Do we really need to break down their sensibilities and define their just-to-the-alternate-side-of-reality view of comedy. Funny Or Die couldn’t be a more appropriate title for their website, accurately reflecting the two sides of their audience. If they’re not laughing, the small percentage may be there trying to decipher the realist aspects and missing the point. For their third theatrical collaboration, they have given us what can best be described as a more vulgar version of Big combined with the arrested development thematics of producer Judd Apatow’s repertoire. Did I just use the word “thematic” to describe a Ferrell/McKay joint?

When Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) saw Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) from across the room during one of his lectures, he was mesmerized. Just before consummation, their discovery that each has a 40 year-old son still living at home signaled to each that they had found the one. Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) may have four decades in time but mentally are still lumbering around the age of puberty. No jobs, hidden nudie mags and asking daddy to leave money for pizza. Hardly thrilled with their last remaining parent getting remarried, they focus their anger on each other culminating in a knockdown, drag-out fight involving stairs, clubs and bicycles. Hoping to focus on his retirement and dream of sailing around the world with his new bride, Robert gives the manboys one month to find jobs or get out.

Concept comedies like this have never depended on their plots to hold an audience’s attention. Usually they devolve into road trips, criminal conspiracies and saving the day. Where Step Brothers becomes unique is in the subtle way we’re actually witnessing a character comedy and not just one where Ferrell plays the obnoxious egotist who realizes the error of his ways. In its own oddball manner, we’re witnessing the growth of these characters into, well, young adulthood. Although their behavior throughout is so thoroughly immature that we’re distracted from even recognizing that there’s actually a real movie going on here. We’re laughing just way too damn hard.

There are elements along the way that assuredly will pay off beyond the moment, particularly the grand finale that Andrea Bocelli would insist on an Oedipal eye transplant to see for himself. The lion’s share of the laughter coming from the priceless pairing of Ferrell and Reilly (who is close to doing for his career what Leslie Nielsen did to his) and this is basically the arc of Apatow’s own directorial efforts (The 40 Year-Old Virgin & Knocked Up) and somewhat of Superbad which found its teen characters cramming so much into one night that they grew up too fast. But to paraphrase another great humorist, we all need to move forward or die. Although dead sharks can be funny too.

As are the casts that McKay and Ferrell assemble, each member unfailingly getting their moment to shine from big moment to solitary lines. Ferrell and Reilly never for once blink in their interpretations of Brennan, the sensitive one, and Dale, the passive-aggressive older brother (by a year) fighting to keep his territory. Neither are merely satirizing the late ‘80s string of age reversal comedies (i.e. Like Father Like Son, Vice Versa, 18 Again). Instead in their own bizarro way have a charm that results in their commitment not just the premise but into creating fully-rounded characters. The always dependable Richard Jenkins is a pillar of strength in trying to keep a straight face around these guys and also reveals a sly chink in his armor in why he’s allowed Dale to live his life the way he has. Mary Steenburgen, the Benjamin Button of character actresses, goes more the way of a Dianne Wiest in her support of the boys but gets her laughs. Adam Scott, as Brennan’s successful younger brother, is a portrait of the corporate fratboy that you just want to see get flattened. Kathryn Hahn, as his wife, scores big laughs in her tempestuous arc with Reilly. The always funny Rob Riggle (from TV’s The Daily Show) comes in late and gets the most laughs out of stares and yelling since the days of Sam Kinison.

You enjoyment of Step Brothers may depend on your tolerance for vulgarity, as the trio take the R-rating further than the Farrelly Bros. ever did – especially expanding on one visual gag that may explain why Fox’s The Rocker put some further distance between their release dates. If you’re thinking about going to see it, test your own profanity reflex by watching Green Team on Funny or Die. It’s just a few minutes of the insanity that could easily be seen as an SNL sketch blown up to feature length. Only McKay, Ferrell, Reilly and their whole team keep the laughs consistent and never sleepwalk their way through contemporaries Adam Sandler and Mike Myers have in recent years. OK, they sleepwalk twice. But it may be two of the funniest scenes you’ll see in 2008. Between sexualized music videos, an a cappella Guns N Roses, punching children, extended farts and female urinals even the biggest fans of Step Brothers will be thinking these guys should be locked up somewhere. But in our current culture of humor, that is a good thing.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/25/08 14:00:00
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

8/09/11 ferrell4president good 4 stars
1/22/11 DANE Those like me with delayed adulthood/wealthy spoiled upbringing-silly/fun/grreat! 5 stars
2/01/09 mr.mike Funny for a while , then just spins its wheels. 3 stars
1/11/09 john This was probably the funniest movie i have ever seen, laughed the whole movie 5 stars
11/28/08 Jon G really stupid, but made me laugh 4 stars
8/14/08 jessica funny. but i feel like ive seen this movie so many times before. honestly, get a new charac 3 stars
8/11/08 George Barksdale Funny in spots, average at best 3 stars
8/10/08 Samantha Pruitt had it's funny moments, but fart jokes aren't gonna cut it, JCR was funny though! 3 stars
8/04/08 Cynthia Its a comedy relax and just let it happen 4 stars
7/29/08 mary mcmuray This was disappointing. It had a few laughs but I was not really impressed 2 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  25-Jul-2008 (R)
  DVD: 02-Dec-2008


  DVD: 02-Dec-2008

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast