Step Brothers review by Tom Blain

First let me call out Step Brothers for what it is: A dumb movie. Yes I am a sucker for a movie staring Will Ferrell and it has been well documented. Its my cinematic sweet-tooth. Im sure there are chefs out there that, when no one is looking, love to sink their teeth into a juicy raspberry-filled jelly donut, dusted with a light powdered sugar. Will Ferrell is my jelly donut, and I get suckered into digesting him most of the time. Step Brothers really isnt an exception and I didnt expect it to be. The premise is pretty simple two-man boys in their early 40s Brenan (Ferrell) and Dale (John C. Reilly) are still living at home with their single parents. One serendipitous afternoon the parents meet each other on the tips of cupids arrow, wham-marriage, bam-move in, and the two over-grown kids become step brothers.

The movies first challenge is for them to like each other. As any step brothers ages 5 to 13, they hate each other from the start. Lines are drawn and battles are fought. Cinematic achievement is made when, what I believe is, the first ever T-Baggin of a drum set is captured on film. This scene will no doubt that this little piece of film history will be studied till the end of time along with the deep focus shots of Citizen Kane and the continuous long take shots of Hitchcocks Rope. The movies second challenge comes after the two step brothers accept one another and then must go out and find a life for themselves. As a comedy it loses some of its momentum because in order for them to get a life their mental side has to group up to match their physical side. The low brow comedy from Step Brothers is completely based on these characters acting as close to a pair of belligerent brats as they physically can. So of course when they grow up, the comedy has to take another angle or twist (look how serious these two morons got!) and unfortunately its not as well tuned.

If there is a genius to this film (beyond, of course, Ferrell stealing a cheap laugh from audience members by putting his tongue on white dog poop), its how it plays off the idea of the Boomerang Generation and turns it into complete slapstick. For years, I have been professing the idea of my generation not being able to break itself apart from the Nintendo long enough to concentrate on finding a job or saving money instead of spending it on cheap thrills. Based on numerous articles across the internet Im not the only one who has noticed this. And Im not holy enough to say I am completely above this behavior (I write for a website called Jackass Critics after all), but I at least recognize it and would like to think avoid it better than most. But to another extreme as I type this, Im sure there is a friend or former acquaintance of mine sitting in his parents old basement behind the joystick of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Some of it comes from lack of direction, and some of it comes from being too coddled into adult years.

But this behavior is out there its growing among young adults. Hats off to the Ferrell/Reilly/McKay team for recognizing this silly state adult denial and making a movie out of it. The idea of grown men living at home and doing the same thing they did during middle school summer break is ridiculous and a ripe, fertile ground for comedy. The adults they create are only adults in the physical sense. Mentally they are lucky if they qualify for pre-algebra which I dont think is the problem of my generation, but it does play up for better laughs. The downfalls of the film are when it comes off the rails. Ferrell and Reilly trying to bury each other in the back yard nailing each other with shovels seems a bit out of place. When the extreme physical violence card is played its a sign of digging for cheap laughs.

One thing I have noticed is about Frat Pack films is that the ending seems to be the worst part about the movie. They are often either over the top and predictable at the same time. Yes we can see a world where these two wonder twins of idiocy go back to living at home in the comfort of mom and dad because its what we expect from this movie, but the way it gets there is bit of a head shaker. Just once I would like to seem them break the mold a little bit; stick to comedy but shake up the formula a little.

You might have to work hard to gain back points you lost with your wife if you take her to this movie (as I did) but if you want something that appeals to your id-like sense of humor it might be a good fit. Lots of hitting, yelling, grossing out, 80s metal t-shirts, chewbacca masks, jokes about masturbation, and people falling from high places. Its not going to test your brain, and maybe downright stupid and insulting at times but if thats what you are looking for this maybe your movie. I have seen worse by Will Ferrell (Blades of Glory) and I have seen better (Anchorman).




6 out of 10 Jackasses
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