Step Brothers

August 17, 2008 by  

This film is probably one of the only vehicles I’ve seen involving Will Ferrell in which he shares a bill with someone that threatens to steal the spot light. Not that that’s a bad thing, because John C. Reilly is a very good comic actor. But typically it’s Ferrell by himself that usually saves movies and movie scenes (“Semi-Pro”, “The Wedding Crashers” respectively). In that regard, “Step Brothers” reminds me a bit of “Dumb & Dumber”, a film made when Jim Carrey was at the top of his game and making millions and millions of dollars as a comic actor. But “Dumb & Dumber” featured a very funny role for Jeff Daniels, who sometimes was funnier than Carrey in the film. I like Ferrell’s approach to comedy better, and I’ve found myself enjoying more of Carrey’s serious work (“The Truman Show”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) rather than his “stupid comedies” like “The Mask” or “Ace Ventura”. Ferrell’s still a box office draw, but I believe he’s in the twilight of his career, and may be relegated to cameos and supporting roles rather than being the star–but for now, he’s got to be enjoying his success.

“Step Brothers” is a deserving addition to Ferrell’s successes. It’s very formulaic, but it respects the formula and allows Reilly and Ferrell to breathe in their scenes, but veteran director Adam McKay understands when it’s time to shut the camera off and move the plot along, even if it is rehashed and thin. It involves a very simple premise: Two 40 year old men who still act like they’re 8 years old are paired together because Ferrell’s mother and Reilly’s father get married. McKay takes care of the marriage rather quickly, lending credence toward the end when things get rocky, seeing as how they kind of “rushed” into marriage. Mary Steenburgen, still extremely attractive at 55, plays the mother role very well, although the relationship between her and Ferrell isn’t as natural as it probably should be.

The relationship, however, between Reilly and Ferrell absolutely works. The key to this plot working is that these two actors have to genuinely act like kids, since they’re 40 years old, I don’t know that a lot of actors could pull something like this off and have it be credible. While the plot begs for stupidity and contrivance, Reilly and Ferrell make it believable, funny, and even cute.

There are some big laughs in this film, and overall it works. The film is right at about 90 minutes, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome, nor does it really leave you wanting to see more. It’s the perfect “get-away” movie, when you just need to ditch real life for an hour and a half. That to me is what the movies are there for anyway, especially summer movies, and this one doesn’t beat you over the head or try and send any kind of message. I won’t give too much away because I think the laughs are bigger when they’re unexpected. I will say that when Farrell and Reilly decide to sabotage Reilly’s brother’s plans to sell his father’s house so they can make enough money to retire and move out, the biggest laughs came, at least for me.

I would almost recommend this movie more as a rental than going out to see it in the theatres because of how much it costs these days, but as I said, it is a good way to kill an afternoon and spend time in a cool theatre. I’ll leave the choice up to you. But I do recommend a viewing of this little film that will probably be forgotten about soon, and that’s a bit unfortunate.

Then again, it’s not a movie that’s necessarily going to stick with you for a long time either.

My rating: :-)

Family value: A lot of strong language will weed out the kiddies, so it’s not a family movie obviously. Go solo or bring the wife if she’s into that sort of thing.

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