Movie Review for Step Brothers (2008)

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Review #665 of 365
Movie Review of Step Brothers (2008) [R] 95 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $7.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Circle Center, Indianapolis, IN
When Seen: 31 July 2008
Time: 12:05 pm
DVD Release Date: 2 December 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)

Directed by: Adam McKay (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)
Screenplay by: Will Ferrell (The Landlord) • Adam McKay (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) with story by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and John C. Reilly

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Will Ferrell (Semi-Pro) • John C. Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) • Mary Steenburgen (The Brave One) • Richard Jenkins (The Kingdom) • Adam Scott (Knocked Up) • Kathryn Hahn (The Last Mimzy)

Review Litepremiere photosspoiler2cOrNot2c?websitetrailer

If the best thing that can be said about Step Brothers is that it's better than Semi-Pro, isn't that kind of a problem? Unfortunately, the statement is true nonetheless. Unfortunately, the Will Ferrell / John C. Reilly / Adam McKay collaboration comes nowhere near the par set by their previous collaboration, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. The plot concerns the union of two families: Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) and his son, Dale (John C. Reilly) merge with Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) and her two sons, Brennan (Will Ferrell) and Derek (Adam Scott).

…John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell doing their shtick…falls short of expectations…
Robert and Nancy have big plans to retire and sail his boat around the world. Unfortunately, there's a gigantic kink in their utopian future: Brennan and Dale, newly anointed step-brothers, won't move out of the house and get real jobs. When Dr. Doback throws down the gauntlet and challenges them to get jobs or feel his wrath, it might seem cruel were in not for the fact that Dale's and Brennan's combined age would approximate 77 years. Yeah, these aren't college kids still trying to find their place in the universe, these are middle-aged men in mid-life crisis.

For humor, the writers (Messers Ferrell and McKay) primarily mined two areas: grown men acting like they are five to seven years old and the love-hate relationships that crop up between members of merged families. Both supply ample material, though, of course, it wouldn't be enough to leave it at that, they had to seed it with unnecessarily foul language, needless and sometimes pointless crude scenes, and preposterous interactions that leave one feeling empty rather than euphoric. Unlike with Talladega Nights, it's never clear where they were going with this script. The ending is as improbable as it is implausible. All of this might be forgivable were the film just plain more funny—sort of like Blades of Glory--it wasn't the best film in the world, but there were some really funny parts and great characters. These characters aren't that great or interesting. Hmm…actually, they aren't even really characters. It's just John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell doing their shtick. The only performance that really stands out is that of Adam Scott. His smarmy performance as the perfect younger brother who makes half a million a year, has a gorgeous wife, Alice (Kathryn Hahn), two children destined for musical theatre stardom, and a beautiful Range Rover. In his mother's eyes, he can do no wrong. Worse, he's the son his new step-father has been dreaming of his entire life. There's no way that either Dale or Brennan can ever even sort of measure up. Adam Scott portrays the character brilliantly demonstrating his ability to move out of the shadow of ancillary characters and into the poster header category.

While Step Brothers looked somewhat promising via its trailer, the film falls short of expectations and probably should have been buried in deep August where it likely could have prepared for its DVD release in late fall. Hopefully, Adam McKay will be more judicious in his choices for using producers' money and the brilliant talents of Reilly and Ferrell. Should you see it or not? Check out our new feature 2cOrNot2c Step Brothers at our new sister site All in all, it looks like Judd Apatow is starting to lose his Midas touch.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Step Brothers (2008)
Cast Members
Will FerrellJohn C. ReillyMary Steenburgen
Richard JenkinsAdam ScottKathryn Hahn
Adam McKay
Will FerrellAdam McKay

Review-lite Step Brothers (2008) [max of 150 words]
Actually, there was every reason to feel great about Step Brothers: reunion of Talladega Nights principle cast and director, Will Ferrell just came off the financially unsuccessful and critically panned fiasco (Semi-Pro), preview was pretty darn funny, producer = Judd Apatow, what more could you ask? How about that not every funny part be in the preview? How about that the plot have a point? How about that Will Ferrell has now been type cast as the hopeless misfit who's so lame he still gets beaten up at age 45 by schoolyard bullies? How about that John C. Reilly once had a promising acting career but continues to steer in front of train wrecks like this? Well, on the bright side, Step Brothers is better than the aforementioned Semi-Pro. Hey, no offense, but it's even better than Superbad, sort of despite the plot similarities. But, other than that, it's beginning to seem more and more like Judd Apatow has lost his touch.

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