by Mel Valentin
If seeing a reasonable facsimile of Will Ferrellís nutsack slipping and sliding on a drum kit is your idea of funny, then "Step Brothers," Ferrellís latest comedic endeavor (itís only been five months since Ferrellís last effort, "Semi-Pro" bombed with critics and audiences). Once again pairing up with friend and actor John C. Reilly (almost always a good idea, regardless of his co-star), Ferrell delivers one of the most consistently outrageous (and hilarious) efforts of his seemingly decades-long career as a lead or supporting player in countless comedies, some good, some awful, but few worthy of being called ďclassicĒ by any objective standard (assuming there are any when it comes to comedy). "Step Brothers" may not join the pantheon of all-time great comedies, but at minimum, itíll provide Ferrellís fans with any enough tasteless jokes and gags to keep them laughing through most of the 90-minute running time.Working again with Adam McKay (The Landlord, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Ferrell takes a relatively thin premise, grown men acting like teenagers (like we havenít seen that one before) and manages to stretch it into a coherent, consistently funny, occasionally hilarious film about what happens when you refuse to grow up and move out of your parentsí spare bedroom. Brennan Huff (Ferrell) is pushing 40, unemployed, and still mooching off his ever-tolerant divorced mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen). Everything changes (as it has to, otherwise we wouldnít have a film), when Nancy meets Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins), an ear specialist. After a whirlwind romance, Nancy and Robert get married and decide to move in together or rather decide to move into Robertís house. Robert has a lazy, unmotivated, 40-year old son of his own, Dale (John C. Reilly). Like Brennan, Dale refuses to get a job or his own apartment.
"Outrageous, offensive, often hilarious Farrell/Reilly team-up."
Due to a shortage of bedrooms, Dale and Brennan are forced to sleep in the same room together. Seeing each other as potential rivals for their respective parentís affections, they take an instant dislike to each other. Dislike turns to hatred, and hatred turns into open warfare. Fed up, Robert and Nancy give Dale and Brennan an ultimatum: get a job, get into therapy, and get out in 30 days. Dale and Brennan begin the inevitable move toward bonding when Brennanís younger, much more successful brother, Derek (Adam Scott), shows up with his wife, Alice (Kathryn Hahn), and two kids, Tommy (Lurie Poston) and Tiffany (Elizabeth Yozamp), in tow, ever ready to rub Brennanís multitude of failures in his face. Dale has a nemesis of his own, Chris Gardoski (Logan Manus), a local kid with lots of preteen muscle behind his threats.
The jokes and gags range from the offensive to the outrageous, none more so than a scene involving Brennanís nutsack (yes, you read that correctly) ďmeetingĒ Daleís drum kit, much to Daleís displeasure. When Ferrell and McKayís screenplay isnít tossing out crude jokes or gags, itís name-checking bits of pop culture detritus (i.e., product placement). Saying more about the jokes and gags in Step Brothers, though, would be to ruin the often clever (clever for being dumb, if that makes any sense) Ferrell and McKay (with Reilly getting a story credit) construct around what seems a one-joke premise. It isnít, or, if it is, Ferrell and McKay find ways around repeating the same joke: think of Step Brothers as a classic symphony composed of one joke and many, many variations.Exploiting his persona as a dim-witted, temperamental man-child onscreen has done wonders for Will Ferrellís bank statement. For the most part ("Semi-Pro" being the exception), audiences flock to Ferrellís films whenever heís playing a variation on his persona. If thatís still the case, "Step Brothers" should make his fans very happy. And with John C. Reilly playing the same variation on Ferrellís persona, audiences will get two Ferrells for the price of one. Of course, thatís only a good thing if you happen to be a Ferrell and/or Reilly fan (this reviewer is). If youíre not, or if you prefer intellectual humor or humor that doesnít depend on crude visual sight gags, then "Step Brothers" is definitely not for you. But in a summer movie season crammed with a wide variety of films in multiple genres, you'll still have a lot to pick from.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17096&reviewer=402
originally posted: 07/25/08 17:08:50