TBT: Step Brothers (2008)

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This back pain I’ve been experiencing recently is causing me to be lazier than usual. Because I’ve been very lazy today, I felt like choosing a movie to review where it wouldn’t be too much of a challenge to churn one out relatively quickly, and so I selected another comedy. And what less challenging material to go with than a Will Ferrell vehicle? I see some of you already heading towards the exit. (It’s okay, I’ll hopefully see you next week when I have a Will Ferrell-less TBT.) If it’s not yet obvious by some of the reviews of the past, I have this slight chink in my armor where I’ll be thoroughly entertained by the shallowest of comedies. The catch is, they pretty much either need to be a Will Ferrell movie or a Leslie Nielsen slapstick. I’m not comparing the two, but those are two of the best kinds of comedies I will watch when my brain has taken a siesta. So, hooray for Lazy Thursday! 

Today’s food for thought: Step Brothers

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Released: July 25, 2008

[DVD] 

What an adorable family portrait! Family photos are all the more fun when your children are fully grown 40-year-old men but still live at home. With that and the fact that mom and dad are 50-60-year-old newlyweds, how can these photos be anything less than precious? See how not awkward they all are in that photo?

Will Ferrell selects different clothes from his wardrobe again to get into character in this relentlessly silly premise about two manchilds (menchildren?) who have refused to leave the house, get a good job and not depend upon mommy (Mary Steenburgen) or daddy (Richard Jenkins). When Nancy Huff attends a lecture given by the esteemed Dr. Robert Doback, the two get together and eventually wed, bringing together Nancy’s awkward and stubborn son Brennan (Ferrell) and Robert’s lazy (and stubborn) son Dale (John C. Reilly).

Pairing up Reilly with Ferrell turns this dysfunctional family story into a functional comedy. Admittedly, it does nothing to stray the path of Will Ferrell’s typical schlock so those opposed likely won’t appreciate these two goofs pouring their hearts into making their first day together as a family the most painfully awkward experience possible. On the other side of the fence, those who do will find the stand-offish situation hilarious. Reilly and Ferrell are convincingly childish in this extended SNL bit about four fully-grown adults trying to cope with a new and rather tense reality. Given the chemistry between these two goobers, we demand to know an explanation as to how this happened — how did these two guys end up this way?

Herein lies the movie’s biggest flaw. Without including any history to the present-day narrative, neither Brennan nor Dale seem like people. They’re mere caricatures. If we had some backstory to these guys’ separate lives, the uniting of this. . .non-traditional. . .family would probably be a good deal funnier, and seem more real. What were these guys like as children, one wonders as the grown ups shuffle zombie-like through a dark kitchen, creating one glorious mess as they experience together their individual sleepwalking habits. When they finally do join forces together and become “best friends,” we can’t exactly say we didn’t see that coming from a mile away.

In spite of its elemental message and lazy construction, it’s a fun movie. Mr. Doback one day puts his foot down and provides the two muttonheads an ultimatum to find a job and grow up. Watching the pair “trying” to get their shit together identifies Step Brothers‘ strengths as another installment in the Ferrell canon. There is a great sequence in which the two go to each other’s interviews together and they fail to rise to each one of these occasions, much to Mr. Doback’s mounting frustration. And then they get their real inspiration: ‘Prestige Worldwide.’ Putting both their dimly-lit lightbulb ideas together, Brennan and Dale pitch a business opportunity one evening to Brennan’s obnoxious younger brother, Derek (Adam Scott). This moment indeed becomes another one to add to the growing list of ways in which these two have humiliated themselves.

In attempting to really sell themselves for once, the two concoct the genius idea to shoot a music/rap video on board Mr. Doback’s prized sailboat, and the video not only is mocked by the entire congregation, it ends in disaster when they take the boat into the rocky shore. The boat meant more to the man than his son even did, so naturally, the film takes a turn to negative town at this moment. A non-too-subtle wind of change beckons act three when we see Dale and Brennan now out on their own in the real world since, over time, things continued to fall apart personally between the Dobacks and the Huffs. An incident at Christmas one year proved to be the final nail in the coffee between Robert and Nancy, and since then the boys have had no choice but to move out. Plus, they’re not speaking to each other at this point. You know, the usual growing pains.

Step Brothers wraps up nicely, however. The Catalina Wine Mixer scene redeems a lot of the film’s relative lackluster bits and pieces. The last impressions of the film are not only shots of a beautiful location, they’re also quite funny and bring about a satisfactory, if not contrived, end to the whole affair. The scene is also responsible for the classic duet performed by Dale and Brennan on stage when the Mixer experiences technical difficulties with the music. As well, the reuniting of the Dobacks with the Huffs is not only comical and awkward, it’s more than expected. And necessary. The movie could end no other way.

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3-5Recommendation: Though Adam McKay has done better, the faithful have found this one a satisfactory tread-water comedy with his go-to-comedian Will Ferrell with the nice addition of John C. Reilly. Reilly might actually be the best thing about this, as his comedic appeal was never very obvious until this performance. He’s since shown an impressive range, with his capacity to be a goofball quite evident here. For anyone else who doesn’t buy into this brand of comedy, though, this script would probably make for great toilet paper.

Rated: R

Running Time: 98 mins.

Quoted: “Robert better not get in my face, ’cause I’ll drop that motherf**ker.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com 

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31 thoughts on “TBT: Step Brothers (2008)

    • Hey thanks. Like all Ferrell’s comedies there’s a bit of hit or miss to the mix but in this case the hits are really strong I thought and the misses not as much. The boat scene is really good!

    • hahah. I take it you found some humor with John C Reilly? Unless you liked Will Ferrell some too? I enjoy this one. A lot because of John rather than Will, and Richard Jenkins is so damn funny here. 😛

      • Yes I did actually. For some absurd reason this movie worked more than it should have. Ferrell is very hit and miss with me…

    • Why thanks, Alex. It actually has been improving. Pinched a nerve or something annoying. 😉

      And yes there always is time for fun things like Step Brothers. a great time-filler!

  1. Good review, Tom! When I first saw this movie, I really didn’t expect much. In roles like this, a little Will Ferrell can go a long way with me. But this one, I admit, is pretty darn hilarious. BOATS ‘N HOES. 😉

    • Lol!!!!! Boats n’ hoes! Gawd that part was really pretty good. Yeah, I would have to agree he’s in pretty good form here. I’m glad you enjoyed it as well, he can be a little much sometimes. Thanks Cara!

  2. I still rate this as one of Big Will’s best movies. He needs to star opposite John C. Reilly more often as they bring the best out of each other. Really enjoyed the read Tom. A+

    • Thanks dude! It’s certainly a pretty good one. I would second that idea, though, bringing Ferrell and Reilly together again for another picture. They do have great chemistry. With the addition of the great Richard Jenkins, this may not quite be the Griswold family but it’s a ridiculous family dynamic to watch nonetheless. Not sure if I should have bought it on DVD, though. . .

  3. Great review! Oddly enough I’ve only seen bits and pieces of this movie. I have a pal of mine who has been telling me to check it out. He said it’s lightweight but funny. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a movie like that.

    • Absolutely Keith. And yeah I would describe it just the same way. It isn’t a weighty flick (when are Will Ferrell movies ever?) but it’s entertaining. Some parts definitely more so than others. I hope you have seen the Catalina Wine Mixer scene (at the end). That’s probably the best part, in my opinion. Well. Between that and Prestige Worldwide. If you don’t know what i’m tallking about with that, then you def need to fill yourself in 🙂

    • hahaha fair is fair. He’s consistently. . .himself in all of his movies. I will say that. There are one or two of his that he seems to be only moderately walking off his own beaten path. . one is Stranger Than Fiction and the other I think is Casa de mi Padre (but I’ve heard very mixed things about that one).

  4. I’ve mentioned before that I am not high on old Willy and I have been getting aggravated lately to see all the positive attention that Anchorman 2 has been getting, despite it not being very good in my opinion. Truth be told, I enjoyed Step Brothers. I could say it was solely because of John, but that would be a lie. This film had its moments and watching it among buddies is always a riot. Beer is a must!!!

    • I still don’t understand the problem people have with Anchorman 2 (that is, if they liked the first one.) They are exactly the same movie!! (Which is kind of a problem in itself.) Good that you enjoyed Step Brothers. It’s a solid one. Not the best he’s ever been in (I leave that to Anchorman still I think). But John C. Reilly undoubtedly makes this quite a bit better. Also a big fan of Richard Jenkins over here! 😀

      • Funny enough, I did not mind the original Anchorman. It was just that the first thirty minutes or so were amusing and than it just dove too far into absurdity. The plot was so all over the place that nothing supplemented the humor. The part with the lighthouse and blindness almost put me to sleep haha.

        Oh yes, Jenkins is awesome as well. I am kind of glad they decided not to go through with a sequel. I fear it might ruin it!

      • Aww!!! The part with the lighthouse and he being blind had me in stitches!! Lol I do however see people’s points with regard to the ending fight scene. It’s so ridiculously over-the-top with how many people get involved and how it is quite exactly the same as the big fight scene in the first. That part to me was a little dumb. But it’s all good. I like sequels being divisive sometimes!!!

        And they so should have made a sequel to this. Call it Step Sisters. Who would star?

  5. I got lambasted at work for not having seen this so someone got clips up on YouTube and sat there whilst I watched them. Not as funny if you do it that way, but it’s on NetFlix so will get around to it at some point.

    • Then allow me to lambast you on the internet!!!! Stop what you are doing now, sir, and see this movie!! haha nah. It’s hardly one of those kinds of recommended flicks, but it is one I encourage you to see at some point. Netflix sounds good. Let me know what you think of it if and when you do. 🙂

    • Well this is most excellent news, glad we are in agreement. It ain’t the best comedy in the world but it’s one of Will Ferrell’s better pieces. I love how Ferrell and Reilly play off one another so well in this. It’s really quite worth a few chuckles

    • Yeah, it definitely is quotable. For example: “If you touch my drumset, I will stab you in the neck with a knife.”

      I like it enough, wish it went a few more different places with such a basic story but you know. You pay for a certain thing with a Will Ferrell comedy lol.

  6. Saw this the second night it was out in theaters and there was probably about five people in the theater, including myself and two other of my pals. Never thought it’d be the hit it is today, but I can’t say I’m all that upset about that either. Because it’s pretty damn funny. Good review Tom.

    • How right you are man, thanks. It is hilarious. It’s just not a particularly outstanding one as compared to other Will Ferrell stuff. Maybe that’s just me?

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