Featuring the unbeatable combination of John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell, who were last seen together in the Talladega Nights film, also directed by Step Brothers writer and director Adam McKay. While none of the McKay/Ferrell films have done exceptionally well with the vast majority of audiences, there is a core group to this day that continue to quote things from Anchorman (I’m one of them) and no doubt there will be a series of quotes from Step Brothers that will make it into every day vocabulary, once again proving that Ferrell’s films don’t have to be an immediate box office smash to maintain traction—home video sales for his films are always consistently impressive.
Brennan Huff (Ferrell), a sporadically employed thirty-nine-year-old who lives with his mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen). Dale Doback (Reilly), a terminally unemployed forty-year-old who lives with his father, Robert (Richard Jenkins). When Robert and Nancy marry and move in together, Brennan and Dale are forced to live with each other as step brothers. As their narcissism and downright aggressive laziness threaten to tear the family apart, these two middle-aged, immature, overgrown boys will orchestrate an insane, elaborate plan to bring their parents back together. To pull it off, they must form an unlikely bond that maybe, just maybe, will finally get them out of the house.
Based on the red-band trailers for this film alone I knew that it would be another I’d inevitably add to my collection. I’ve watched Anchorman countless times at this point and Talladega Nights, while not an immediate favorite of mine, eventually found its way into my collection, so I knew another outing with McKay and Ferrell would be right up my alley. Not to mention John C. Reilly, whom I’ve been an ever-increasing fan of since Walk hard, was co-starring in this film, so I’m all but shocked that I didn’t actually go see this one in the theater.
Moving onto the film itself, it is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from a McKay/Ferrell vehicle. Plenty of toilet humor, including an obnoxiously long fart that will send you into a fit of laughter that is hard to recover from if you find excessive flatulence funny (Note: I do!), is abound in this film and there are several “that’s wrong” moments that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself—I don’t want to spoil anything. Of course on top of the humor is the “touching” side of the story, with Brennan and Dale eventually forming a friendship that eventually deteriorates and brings them together again in the end. I don’t think it’s a real spoiler saying any of that; this isn’t the type of film you watch for its plot twists.
Quite honestly there isn’t a lot in this hour and a half long film to really discuss. It’s pretty much just a series of jokes one after another and it will definitely go down as one of the more entertaining comedies I’ve seen in a long time. If you found Talladega Nights to be a bit unimpressive, then Step Brothers should be a bit more up your alley. It’s hilarious from the start and it isn’t hindered by a PG-13 rating, which allows the film and characters to go places immediately that the previous Ferrel/McKay PG-13 efforts weren’t allowed to go. Obviously it’s the humor of the lower level variety, fueled by expletive outbursts and typical slapstick comedy, so it’s nothing that will require you to think too much before you laugh, which makes it a nice easy watch. Although there is a rather uncomfortable bathroom scene involving Reilly’s character, so be sure you’re around with company with whom you can laugh about anything, as the scene may make a few uncomfortable. But that’s what’s so fun about these types of films, right?
Overall Step Brothers is low-brow humor, but it’s absolutely hilarious. Critical reception of the film (as well as general reception, if the IMDb score is to be believed) is poor but if you like Ferrel’s brand of humor, there’s no reason to pass this one up. Recommended.
Once again Sony has released a torrent of releases for this film, including three different DVD releases and a single Blu-ray release. Why? I’ve no idea, it makes for an incredibly confusing setup for store shelves and I’m sure consumers are bound to pick up the wrong version for whoever has this title down on their Christmas list. For this review I’ll be tackling the theatrical widescreen release, which is actually the lowest tier release you could possibly get of this film and I can tell you right now if you’re going to go the single-disc route for this release, just pick up the unrated version as it apparently contains both versions of the film on one disc, making this theatrical-only release completely stupid. The film itself arrives in a standard amaray DVD case and menus are simple and easy to navigate.
Video for this film is…really kind of strange. I’ve viewed it on two different screens now and both times the skin tones for this one look very, very off. There’s a scene in particular in the living room of the home where Steenburgen’s character is talking to Ferrel and Riley and the skin tones change from an organish tint so something more natural and then back to orange again. It’s quite an uneven and distracting transfer; it’s really only the skin tones that look out of place and I’m not sure what the deal with it is. I can’t imagine it’s intentional, as it’s a wholly unreal looking appearance for the majority of the characters. The audio is a fair DD5.1 mix that neither astounds nor underwhelms. It does what it does for a comedy: crystal clear dialogue in the front channels, with surrounds reserved for the films soundtrack (which is quite a nice selection of songs).
Now let’s move onto the extras, which if you’re like me will leave you wanting more, thus requiring you to pick up the two-disc or Blu-ray release anyway, so, again…just avoid this release if you enjoy Ferrel/McKay flicks, as you’re going to want to see all the extras that go along with this one.
First up we have a Commentary with Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Adam McKay, Special Guest Baron Davis and Scored by Jon Brion. If the “Scored by” portion is confusing to you…just wait till you listen to the track. The whole track is done in verse, so don’t expect to learn much about the film itself, but it’s a hilarious track to listen to regardless. A collection of Extended and Alternate Scenes (17:32) is up next, as well as a Line-o-Rama (5:56) and Gag Reel (4:17). Boats ‘n Hoes (1:53) is the full music video and The Making of (22:04) gives us a fair look into the production of the film.
That’s all for the single disc release, although for the two-disc you can expect an unrated version of the film as well as a second disc of extras, so…really, just Skip this release and pick up one of the other releases. This is really about as stripped down for a DVD release as you can for this film and if you feel like you might enjoy it even remotely, then just avoid this theatrical release.
Step Brothers is now available on theatrical widescreen DVD, unrated widescreen DVD, unrated two-disc widescreen DVD and on unrated Blu-ray.