Review: Step Brothers Surprises

I love Will Ferrell but I will not wipe his bum for him. Kicking and Screaming was uninspired. Sure, I think Elf was fun, if a tad overrated. Blades of Glory mostly sucked because it was essentially a one-joke movie. Both Talladega Nights and Semi-Pro -- despite their moments -- were no Anchorman, which is pretty much a medulla oblongata slice of genius. But I'll tell you, nothing touches his role in Zoolander. Mugatu makes me do a happy dance to the tunes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And yes, it's frightening to witness.

Make no mistake, Step Brothers is a funny movie. It isn't a great movie. In fact, it's a pretty stupid movie. But it's a good stupid, and the chemistry between John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell makes it a fun one as well. Put that on the DVD box why don't you. It's a good stupid movie!

Now there will be some unfortunate souls (whom I've already encountered in nameless, torch-lit back alleys) who will tell you Step Brothers is more of the same. One good chap even told me the filmmakers tried to have it both ways and play it both realistically and outlandishly. That's just a bunch of silliness. Step Brothers is a movie from another universe. These are not real people. In fact, the humor of the movie really comes from how absurd everything is.

When the movie begins you may be questioning whether or not Ferrell and Reilly are supposed to be playing their own age. Is the joke that they're 40 and they're playing 12 year-olds? No. They're just 40. They live at home. They have no jobs. They are leeches. Yet they are absurdly tolerated to extremes. They're babied and put up with. They're treated as children. But they are 40. And really hairy. Reilly wears shorts from the '70s still. Ferrell still calls his mommy "mommy." They have the run of their homes and they aren't even precocious. Then Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale's (Reilly) parents marry and they're forced to deal and compete with each other. Things get bumpy. They hate each other. They even try to kill one another at one point. Bad things (shameful even) happen to drum sets. But when Brennan's younger brother Derek (a wonderfully slimy Adam Scott) enters their lives, the two unite and realize they're totally gay for each other (in a completely hetero way).

Ferrell and Reilly both serve up the laughs, of course. One of the more admirable things about the film is how these two actors just go for it completely. These are real characters they're playing, deranged as they may be. I bought into their lunacy fairly early on and once it was clear that the movie was working at a purely insane level, the film really took off for me.

The rest of the cast is rounded out pretty nicely. Nobody's really lost in the bizarre comedy warp here. The aforementioned Adam Scott has one of the strangest (and funniest) introductions I've seen for a character this year. As does a very game Kathryn Hahn who goes all-out as his wife, Alice. She plays quite the lady.

The movie isn't a complete home run. I liked where it took things in the last act, but somehow the movie is a little too light to be a really satisfying story the way, say, Pineapple Express is -- but it all works.

Comedic actors tend to have a short shelf-life. We laugh at the buffoons and then we tire of the buffoons. Audiences are kind of like kings in that way. If the jackals no longer make us smile, off with their heads -- and I'm getting a whiff of a somewhat potent desire to place Ferrell's head on the chopping block. Strangely, I don't have Will Ferrell fatigue and Step Brothers is not Love Guru (thank the heavens). It isn't even the funniest movie I've seen this year. But it sure made me laugh.

B-