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Review: Step Brothers

Step Brothers
07.25.2008
6 10

PLOT: Dr. Robert Doback and Nancy Huff have finally found love. They were two lonely souls that needed more than what they had in life. The problem is, one of the things they each have is a forty-year-old son still living at home. But no matter, the two get married with hopes that the step brothers will learn to get along. Yet the moment Dale meets Brennan, you can tell there is a war. And with all this, the happy couple must try and make the marriage work, one that is constantly marred by their poor parenting skills. Someday, somebody is going to have to grow up and move out… Robert and Nancy can only hope.

REVIEW: I have to say that I really had fun with about three quarters of STEP BROTHERS. Yep, most of the film I found myself laughing at the crude, ridiculous and sometimes just bizarre actions that played out. This tale of two, much too old to be living at home, step-siblings finds humor in simplicity. Watching two forty-year-old men behaving as if they were thirteen is as much laugh inducing as it is a little terrifying. And with both Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, there is enough talent to kinda sorta believe that these losers never really grew up. Yet still, their parents coddle them, give them money, they even treat them as if they were teenagers. This is the ultimate dysfunctional family the way these two adolescent middle aged men have somehow convinced the parents that the relationship is working. Hell, even when the parents finally make some hard decisions, I actually felt a little sympathy for these guys.

When Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) and Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) meet at a lecture, they find themselves getting all hot and sweaty. Both have older children, and both are looking for someone to share their life with. As they begin to open up, the both admit to having a son living at home. Well, it seems they were meant to be together. Wedding bells ring, and the two… ah, boys?… end up not only being forced to live together, but they have to share a bedroom. Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) is a momma’s boy in the worst of ways, and he has been taken care of far too long by his mother. Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) seems to think all is good and well with him and pops, until the new kid shows up. Early on, with the introduction of the Dale and Brennan, you can see this is going to get nasty. And does it ever, whether Brennan places his scrotum on Dale’s drum set, or the two get in a massive fight involving possible rape, there is not a lot of brotherly love going on. If it wasn’t bad enough, both of these guys sleepwalk, leaving a frightening mess every time.

One of the biggest surprises in the film is not that Ferrell and Reilly work opposite each other as well as they do, the biggest surprise is the successful sibling. Adam Scott is hysterical as Derek, the smart, smug and very rich brother to Brennan. When he and his miserable family show up to make nice with the new man in mom’s life, he makes for a much more interesting bad guy than the two slackers just fighting with each other. I also enjoyed Derek’s desperate housewife Alice (played by Kathryn Hahn). She ends up finding herself attracted to Dale and risks everything to be with him. Her dialogue as she discusses what she wants him to do to her is beyond funny, it is warped and sort of sad, but it also makes for good comedy. I found that the film seemed to pick itself up once this third party arrived, because seriously, after awhile the jokes regarding the two step brothers hating each other grows a tad bit tedious.

I’ve heard many complain about the Judd Apatow produced films being too long, but for the most part, that never bothers me. Yet with STEP BROTHERS, there were a couple of times that it finally happened. As I mentioned, the fighting between Reilly and Ferrell is funny, but after awhile it begins to drag. And then somewhere during the last forty five minutes or so, I felt that the ideas were running out. Yeah, I get it, these guys are lame and they have to find a way to get along, and the enabling parents don’t help the situation. But somewhere along the way I felt like it was a SNL skit that had worn it’s welcome. I will say however, that the story seemed to dust itself off after awhile, and entertain again. While it may not invent the comedy wheel, I was able to remain involved up until the very end… at least for the most part.

I think Adam McKay is a smart choice for a project like this. He brings a few creative touches to the film and is able to utilize both Steenburgen and Jenkins incredibly well. I really enjoyed both of these talented actors, and their parenting skills were a bit scary. Being that both McKay, Ferrell and Reilly had some fun with the script. I did however feel that maybe too much freedom was given. There are moments when the script sometimes seems to linger where it shouldn’t, and it develops a bit of a monotonous feel, I did however find myself enjoying the experience. My only wish, is that even though I had fun with the sort of improv feel, I think a little structure might have made STEP BROTHERS a much more solid family affair. Yet it is still a entertaining comedy with a strong cast to back it up. My rating 6.5/10 -- JimmyO

Source: JoBlo.com

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