Here’s the thing about Will Ferrell: I feel like I can’t say anything bad about him. As someone with a former “Saturday Night Live” obsession, I hold him in the highest regards. I still do impressions of his “Zoolander” and “Anchorman” characters.
But the fact is, he hasn’t made me laugh much lately. “Talledega Nights” was a brutal, laugh-free couple of hours for me; “Stranger Than Fiction” was cute enough, but not laugh-out-loud funny; and I didn’t even bother seeing “Blades of Glory” or “Semi-Pro.”
So when I say that “Step Brothers” is good, I really mean it.
It follows, of course, two middle-aged losers living at home and eating it up, having never really mentally grown past middle school. Their sad situation bonds their single parents, and the men quickly become siblings.
There is the mandatory phase of hatred and fighting, which is a great mix of childish behavior and actual violence. Mary Steenburgen delivers a great performance that’s actually pretty endearing as Ferrell’s supportive but frustrated mother. Eventually, after mutually terrible blows to the head, the pair realize their similarities and become best friends, becoming an unstoppable annoying force. Together, they drive their parents absolutely insane, ruining their happiness. The boys are then forced to get their act together to save their family.
The movie delivers tons of temper tantrums, beatings, underage bullies, and classic Ferrell and John C. Reilly lines. The dialogue is completely ridiculous but Ferrell and Reilly commit to it fully. That being said, some of the funniest moments are when they bring it down a little. The best part of the movie for me was when the two are verbally sparring at the dinner table and Reilly throws back the comment, “That’s so funny, the last time I heard that I fell off my dinosaur!” Instead of an over-the-top reaction, Ferrell makes a tiny wince of pain.
Another great thing about the movie is that they actually let a girl in on the comedy action. Adam McKay movies – and really, all of the big comedies coming out these days – are huge sausage fests that really use women as decorations. The women are always pretty to look at but always look like they’re trying very hard to “act”, instead of just going for it. But Katherine Hahn goes completely, 100 per cent balls out. She plays their sister-in-law who becomes sexually obsessed with Reilly’s character after he punches her husband in the face. Hahn is just as committed and nuts as the leads, and delivers truly some of the funniest moments of the film. Her sex scene with Reilly, where she basically lifts her leg up and steals his virginity, is hysterical.
While I did thoroughly enjoy the movie, there are inevitably some moments that fail. Making a young kid use a gay slur, for example, just isn’t really comedy to me. Heads up on extreme language as well; just in the beginning of the film they manage to use a long list of curse words in about 90 seconds.
Overall, the movie is definitely funny, which is all that matters. The soundtrack is good, the outfits are amazing; the pacing and storytelling are very smooth, if a little pointless. And Ferrell and Reilly manage to add in just enough charm to make you not want to punch them in the face the whole time for acting like 10-year-olds in desperate need of some Ritalin.