Written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
Directed by Adam McKay
Running Time: 1:35
for crude and sexual content,
and pervasive language.
Step Brothers was a moving, tragi-comic film about the hardships of a mixed family. Actually, it was a dumb comedy which started off funny but then fell into trying to have a story.
Brennan Huff is 40 and lives with his mom. Dale Doback is 40 and lives with his dad. When mom and dad meet at a conference and fall madly in love, they getting married forcing Brennan and Dave to become step-brothers. Needless to say, these two don't like anyone being forced into their lives and they immediately resent each other. After trying to kill each other, they soon come to realize that they may in fact be best friends. After watching their parents marriage fall apart, they also realize that it may be about time to grow up.
Step Brothers has a lot of things going for it. The cast, the director, the producer... and yet while it was funny for the first half, the second half felt flat. The movie works at a pretty fast pace to get Brennan and Dale together so they can engage in their teenage quarrels. Watching these two grown men act like little kids is funny, mainly because Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly seem to be having a really good time doing it. However about mid-way through the film things slow down a lot as we watch these two understand that their actions are affecting their parents and they start to take their lives seriously. That's when the movie loses a lot of momentum and the problem there is that it can't come back. For the first half of the movie, I had a big smile on my face and laughed out loud a lot at some of the completely absurd things that went on. But once I lost that smile, it was hard to get it back. Momentum is strange that way... once you lose it, it's really hard to get it back.
The movie is rated R, which I found odd. Not because it didn't deserve it, but because there didn't seem to be much reason for it. Beyond one sight gag involving testicles and a drum set (definitely a laugh out loud moment), it was mostly about the language. So why swear so much to get an R rating when you could have toned down on that and gotten a PG-13? Or, turn up the raunchiness and really get an R. If you're going to turn away a large portion of people who would see the movie (under 17s) why not go all the way? And if you're not going to go all the way and just have a lot of loud, bad language, why not lose some of that and get a PG-13? Maybe they thought that based on the success of past Judd Apatow films, getting an R rating would be cool and give the movie some edge. It didn't work.
The supporting cast got a lot of laughs in the film, especially Kathryn Hahn who played Alice, Brennan's sister-in-law. She was trapped in a horrible marriage to Brennan's overly confident brother Derek and she found her refuge in Dale, who appeared to have no idea what to do with her. Why everyone would put up with these two idiots is beyond me, and to fall in love with one of them is even farther out of the reach of reality, but so be it. This isn't the kind of movie I suppose that really needs a plot, which is why I wonder why they bothered to have one. If the entire movie was just the two step brothers acting like complete morons and ruining everyone's lives, it might have been funny throughout. But once they started realizing there were consequences to their actions, it got to be too much. The lightheartedness turned into sympathy that maybe these guys were just slow and not acting slow. And once you believe that they have a problem the movie isn't as funny. It's kind of like this review. I thought the review started off strong enough, but the more I write, the worse it gets. Had I just stopped a paragraph ago I could have gotten out and been OK, but I'm slowly sinking into the mud.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall I liked the first half of Step Brothers, but once it got a little serious, it was very hard for it to get back on to the comedy track, no matter how much it tried.
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