Step Brothers – Review

Makes Semi-Pro seem like a distant memory

Image Courtesy of

Director: Adam McKay
Notable Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins and Adam Scott

This is a big, dumb, stupid movie. But sometimes dumb and stupid is a perfect means of escapism. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have been a creative tag-team ever since their days at Saturday Night Live. Step Brothers is their third feature film collaboration, and it is their first comedy to garner a restricted rating. My question is, What took them so long?

Whenever McKay and Ferrell are involved in a project the possibility is strong that you won’t be wowed by fine, Shakespearian-like performances. And you can forget about the whole “method acting” technique. What you can expect, though, is a comedy that is loud and stupidly fun, with lines of dialogue you’ll be quoting soon after the credits roll.

Trust me, you’ll laugh hard with this one. Step Brothers is (perhaps to some) wet-your-pants funny.

Will Ferrell reunites with his Talladega Nights co-star John C. Reilly, and together they play off each other like they’ve been traveling the comedy circuit for years. Like peanut butter and jelly, or some other food combination metaphor you’d hear while watching Forrest Gump.

The two of them, Dale (Reilly) and Brennan (Ferrell), are adults who still live at home with their parents. They have no ambition, their lives devoid of responsibility. But their perfect world of couch loafing and marathon sessions of Guitar Hero is rocked when Brennan’s single mom, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), falls for Dale’s single father, Robert (Richard Jenkins). A wedding follows and Brennan and Nancy move in with Robert and Dale. The two reluctant stepbrothers must share the same bedroom…and toys.

That’s the setup to the comic absurdity that follows. There’s in-fighting, a live burial, a faux rap video called “Boats and Hos” and Ferrell christening a set of drums. Need I go on? With the R-rating, McKay uses it to great effect, as Ferrell and Reilly just go of; these two schlubs sling vulgarities that will have you shaking your head while laughing your head off. Anytime they are on screen together, total gut-busting time. So many jokes that the 90-minute comedy doesn’t have time to veer into the land of lulls.

Even when the two adult children have to grow up and take responsibility the laughs are still there.

The only real drawback is the absence of a true supporting cast. The previous films in the McKay/Ferrell cannon had a strong group to play off of Ferrell. Steve Carell, Gary Cole and even Michael Clarke Duncan had their own moments to shine and steal the show. Other than Reilly, the only support is Steenburgen and Jenkins. But they are reactionary characters as parents who are trying to put up with all the bickering and fighting inside the household. Rarely do they initiate the comedy, and when it does occur it’s early on and Ferrell and Reilly are nowhere in sight. Still they are a good pairing, and seeing Jenkins here is a nice counter-balance to his Oscar-worthy performance in The Visitor earlier this year.

As another production from the Jerry Bruckheimer of comedy, Judd Apatow, Step Brothers is a colorful exercise in crass. I think McKay and Ferrell are learning from the Comedic Jedi master in realizing that a hard-R rating can draw a crowd. For those who had their own sibling rivalries growing up, imagine it to the 100th degree with lots more sex, violence and language. Then watch this and see how your childhood matches up.


Join our newsletter

never miss the latest news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary for Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games!