Step Brothers
dir Adam McKay
scr Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
with Will Ferrell, John C Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Andrea Savage, Logan Manus, Seth Rogen, Ken Jeong, Lurie Poston, Elizabeth Yozamp
release US 25.Jul.08, UK 29.Aug.08
08/US Columbia 1h35
Step Brothers
Sibling rivalry: Reilly and Ferrell

steenburgen jenkins scott
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Step Brothers Sporadically funny, and ridiculous enough to keep some fans happy, this silly comedy is like a Saturday Night Live sketch stretched far beyond the breaking point. Even a solid cast can't sustain one joke this long.

When Nancy (Steenburgen) meets Robert (Jenkins), sparks fly. They quickly marry and merge their families, as Nancy and her 39-year-old slacker son Brennan (Ferrell) move in with Robert and his 40-year-old slacker son Dale (Reilly). The step-brothers behave like jealous children until they unite in mutual hatred for Brennan's high-achieving brother Derek (Scott). But this only stirs even more boneheaded behaviour, which ultimately causes trouble for the whole family. Especially when Derek's wife (Hahn) starts hitting on Dale.

The film opens with the now-legendary George W Bush quote: "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream" (October 2000). So we know the tone here, which cast and crew combine with an obsession with male genitalia, keeping things extremely rude, but more ridiculous than funny. The script feels strained and thinly developed, with major comedy set pieces that have nowhere to go once the central joke is revealed (such as the fact that both boys sleepwalk).

That said, Ferrell and Reilly dive in fully, expertly bringing out the film's one joke (that these men act like bratty children) even if they don't do much with it. Basically, these two big babies are unbearably spoiled, and they annoy us as much as the other characters. Meanwhile, Steenburgen and Jenkins give much more rounded comic performances that are genuinely engaging and often very funny, while Scott is hysterically obnoxious as the golden boy, and Hahn spins her one-note role into something that actually makes us giggle.

And while there are moments here and there that hit a comical resonance, in the end it comes down to how well you respond to the hammy actors and corny script, including a rather amusing tidal wave of over-the-top sap at the end. Basically, aficionados of bodily fluid humour will chuckle all the way through it, especially if they go to the cinema en masse after a visit to the pub. But the film's not actually that funny.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 28.Jul.08

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Step Brothers dara yazdani, Hove: 4/5 "The film's admittedly flimsy plot largely relies on the central performances to carry it off. Fortunately there are no bad performance in this film. None. Ferrell and O'Reilly co-wrote the script which means much of the jokes are ad-libbed and therefore the characters extreme behaviour is utterly convincing. They take arrested development to a whole new level. Yes it's childish. Yes it's gross. Yes it's offensive. And yes it just a bunch of actors being rude and stupid. But most importantly it is hilarious. I don't remember a cinema audience laughing this much for a long time. With the dip in form that was Semi-Pro and Drillbit Tailor it is good to see Ferrell and Apatow back on song. Fans of their classic work will absolutely love this movie." (2.Sep.08)
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall