Step Brothers

Posted on December 1, 2008 at 8:00 am

I have an idea for a movie comedy. A writer-director has a couple of huge hits and so all the Hollywood studio hacks descend on him adoringly. “Give us your ideas,” they tell him, “Anything at all! We’ll make a deal.” So, just to get them to stop pestering him and perhaps also to make a payment on his new boat, he tosses out whatever pops into his head or pulls out some ideas he scribbled in a notebook back when he was in college and they write a big check and then they make the movies.
I promise, that would be a lot funnier than the result of one of those ideas, which is what we have in the latest from Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow. This one would have to sit in the oven for a couple more hours to be considered half-baked. Despite the success of “Superbad” and “Knocked Up,” every movie about a childish boy-man who occasionally bawls “I love you man!” to his best friend is not entertaining.
As Will Ferrell gets older, the characters he plays get mentally younger. Here he is a 40-year-old man who lives with his mother and acts like he is 5. When his mother gets married to a man who also has a 40-year-old son living at home (John C. Reilly) the two of them instantly hate each other, then become devoted friends. It’s like “The Brady Bunch” crossed with “My Fair Brady” and a little bit of “Breaking Bonaduce.” Except not as good. Ferrell and director Adam McKay founded the acclaimed “Funny or Die” website. On this movie, I vote “die.”
Buddy movies generally work best when the characters have distinct personalities that create contrast and conflict. They don’t have to be likable but they do have to have some reason to get us on their side. But here the two emotionally and intellectually childish step brothers are so similar and so unappealing that we may not root for the (actual) child bullies who taunt and torture them but we can certainly see their point.

Parents should know that this film has constant extremely crude humor, very explicit sexual references and situations, pornography, drug references, drinking, very strong language used by adults and children, brief very explicit nudity, comic violence including beating up children
Family discussion: Is it funny to see adult men act like children? Why did Dale and Brennan change their minds about each other? Why did their parents let them stay at home?
If you like this, try: “Anchorman” and “Walk Hard”

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17 Replies to “Step Brothers”

  1. ok well I happen to love the movie Step Brothers and I think the review for it on here is CRAP. Its funny actually hilarious and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are GREAT!

  2. Another movie with male genitalia. How so very tiresome. The double standard bias towards men continues !!! Where is the equality ??

  3. Thanks for posting and I am always glad when someone sees more in a movie than I do. But it would be much more helpful and persuasive if you could tell us why you liked it or what it was in the review you disagreed with. And a reminder, movie_lover of the rules for comments on this site — respect and courtesy at all times. Insults are not arguments and I am sure you don’t want readers to think that only rude people are fans of this movie.

  4. Nell,
    I respect and trust your reviews. You seem to know what you are talking about. When critiquing, you make very valid points and one can tell that they are well-thought-out.
    I am glad for this review, particularly. My fiance is a Will Ferrell fan and is determined to see every one of his movies. I, however, believe that Ferrell’s career is rapidly spiraling downward, and the majority of his movies are very unfunny. It would be nice if he could make more movies like Stranger Than Fiction. Now THAT was a funny movie! And intelligent funny, not dumb funny. Not to mention a great story AND a great cast.
    Ferrell could take a lot of hints from Jim Carrey, IMO, who started out in the same position. Thankfully, Carrey outgrew his Ace Ventura phase.

  5. Thanks so much, Rebekah! “Stranger than Fiction” is one of my favorite films of the past 10 years. Ferrell was terrific and I loved Dustin Hoffman! I think people as successful as Ferrell are under a lot of pressure to repeat themselves; after all a lot of money is at stake and it seems like a sure bet. But your analogy to Carrey is a good one — and for a cautionary tale, Ferrell should try to avoid what has happened to Eddie Murphy.
    I really appreciate your post and if your boyfriend sees the movie, let me know what he thinks!

  6. 😉 Very funny! Probably both. Thanks for the correction! Remember, ten corrections and you get a copy of my book!

  7. Nell.
    I noticed in your review you did include that there is graphic nudity. However, in the main reviews I have been seeing as well as at the top of your review ,where it says rated “R,” it does not mention nudity. Is there a reason for that ? Thanks

  8. Thanks, Tim. I can put more detail in the review than in the shorthand summaries on top so it is always advisable to read both.

  9. Thank you for that surprisingly funny post! I was on the fence as to whether or not to see it, but since I was so entertained by your review, I’ll let that alone suffice:)

  10. We decided to stream this one on netflix last night out of boredom. Worst. Movie. Ever. – we only made it through about 15 minutes before we declared it unwatchable (and we sat all the way through The Love Guru, so that’s telling). Another case of my having a “why, oh why, didn’t I check with Nell first” moment.

  11. You are ignorant, the inspiration behind this movie was based off a story about a similar couple who were raising 30+ year old children with Asperger’s Syndrome.
    I happen to love tihs movie because it is exactly the mannerism my best friend acts. They were trying to spread the concept of it in the form of humor because after all that is the best medium to relay any idea.
    I will for ever give it a B+ because of the personal connection I can relate to.

  12. Thanks for the comment, John. I am always glad to hear from someone who sees more in a movie than I do. And I also have close friends with Asperger’s and appreciate very much the authentic portrayals in movies like “Adam” and “Temple Grandin.” But I do not agree that this movie was a good way to communicate about Asperger’s. And I remind you that the rules of this site prohibit insults, which in any case reflect poorly on the manners and judgment of fans of this film. If you think this movie does a good job of communicating the importance of kindness and compassion, the way you express yourself about it is a good way to start.

  13. i personally thought this movie was hilarious, sure the comedy is a little immature but can’t that also be said about the three stooges?

    the only thing i dislike about your review is that it sorta hints that farrell is getting lazy or on his downfall.
    the truth is that american movie viewers are getting lazy and stupid,if comedys with such stupid humor werent such huge successes they wouldnt be made anymore…

    1. Hmmm, so you admit that the movie is immature and appeals to “lazy and stupid” viewers, but you liked it? Thanks for writing, David B — I always love to hear from people who appreciate a movie more than I do. Your comment will be very helpful to people trying to decide whether they should see it.

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