Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) is a thirty-nine-year-old who lives with his divorced mother, Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) is a forty-year-old who lives with his widower father, Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins). When Nancy meets and falls in love with Robert, the two sons have to share a room as stepbrothers. Brennan and Dale start out hating each other, but find very soon, they are not very different.
Review by Louise Keller:
Ok, we've had the 40 year old Virgin and now here's are the 40 year old Stepbrothers who behave like pubescent brats as they clash and bond in puerile fashion. Painful to watch, this Will Ferrell vehicle is crude, infantile and unfunny as it hovers around its one-tone premise in which two grown men behave like kids - and vile ones at that. Directed by Adam McKay, who also helmed Anchorman and Talladega Nights, McKay and Ferrell take the blame for the script, which may well have been written over gallons of beer and pizza. John C. Reilly is also blamed for contributing to the story, so each of these talents knew what they were getting themselves into. The sorry part is that Ferrell and Reilly are real talents who should know better.
The first warning sign comes even before the film begins. A quote attributed to George W. Bush about families, hope and dreams generates more laughs than that Will Ferrell licking dog faeces or brushing the drum-kit with his testicles or wiping his backside with a brown pile rug, when toilet paper runs out. Yes, Judd Apatow has a hand in it - he is credited as producer - and also appears as a potential employer who asks 'Is that onion and ketchup' when Reilly's Dale (wearing a tuxedo for a bathroom cleaning job interview) farts long and loud at an inappropriate moment. I felt rather sorry for Richard Jenkins as Dale's Dad and Mary Steenburgen as Brennan's Mum, as they battle to inspire their idiotic, good-for-nothing sons to go to therapy and find a job. The only time I smiled was when Brennan's paranoid, always-singing brother Derek (Adam Scott) brings some potential homebuyers to the house only to find Ferrell and Reilly dressed as a Nazi and member of the Ku Klux Clan, in a bid to deter them.
The film plays out predictably with few surprises as the hug-fest comes to a close. The running gag involving Ferrell's Brennan being a closet singer, gagged after a traumatic childhood experience involving his brother, a stage appearance and humiliation, is resolved, but there is nought to redeem this inspiration-lacking, dull, low-brow, slapstick comedy that outstays its welcome from the very first frame.
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STEP BROTHERS (MA15+)
CAST: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins
PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Jimmy Miller
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
SCRIPT: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood
EDITOR: Brent White
MUSIC: John Brion
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Hartley
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 18, 2008