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Step Brothers (2008)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 12/2/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/1/2008

This may be the easiest review that I've ever written. Did you enjoy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby? Did you love the scenes in which Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly simply yelled random stuff at one another? Then you will love Step Brothers. Director Adam McKay stated that Ferrell, Reilly, and himself really enjoyed the "loose" scenes in Ricky Bobby and wanted to find a project which would allow them to be "loose" again. Well, Step Brothers is about as loose as it gets and at times, the film is akin to watching an improv troupe (Which seems like it would be torture. Do I really need someone yelling from the stage, "Now, name a place!") But, is Step Brothers funny? You bet it is.

Step Brothers introduces us to Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) and Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins), who meet at a medical conference and immediately hit it off. After a whirlwind romance, they decide to marry and live together. They both have sons who will be moving in with them. The only problem is that their sons are both 40 years old. Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) resents having to move into the Doback house, and he immediately dislikes Dale Doback (John C. Reilly). Neither man is employed, so they simply stay at home all day, finding new ways to annoy one another and their parents. When things get out of hand, Dr. Doback insists that the men look for work. Finding a common enemy in this new decree of responsibility, Brennan and Dale quickly learn that they share many interests. Now, the world will see that these two are even more destructive as friends.

No matter what you think of Step Brothers, you must admire the fact that the film lays down an initial premise and sticks to it. I can only imagine the pitch for this movie: It's the standard story of two step-siblings who are suddenly thrown together by parents who are blissfully in love, and the boys act like typical teenagers...except they are 40. Ferrell and Reilly never break character and throughout the movie, they both act like spoiled 14 year olds who know nothing about the real world. Even when one of them is approached by a woman, he acts as if he doesn't know what is happening. In turn, Dr. Doback and Nancy treat the boys as if they are children (which, if you really want to analyze this movie, is why they act the way that they do), from their enabling down to their choice of Christmas presents.

The absurdity of this premise alone is worth its weight in comedy gold. Clearly, McKay, Ferrell, and Reilly (all of whom are credited with the screen story) sat down and thought of as many situations as possible where they could mirror adolescent behavior. From sibling rivalries to male territoriality to taking Dadís car without permission to being forced to get a job. About the only thing that they donít do is raid the liquor cabinet -- I guess even this trio thought that 40-year old men participating in underage drinking was too much.

However, these ideas only serve as the skeleton for the film. The remainder is filled in with Ferrell and Reillyís riffing. Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself, ďI wonder if that line was actually in the script?Ē. Well, you donít have to wonder here, as I got the feeling that it was all being made up as they went along. But, that doesnít matter, as Step Brothers is one of the most consistently funny movies that Iíve seen this year. Each scene sets up a new situation and then Ferrell and Reilly simply go nuts, spouting one offensive and crazy line after another. And they arenít the only ones. Steenburgen and Jenkins are clearly game, and thereís just something funny about Steenburgen dropping F-bombs. Co-stars Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn also get in on the act (we get to see some of Hahnís bizarre improvs in the DVD extras).

On paper, Step Brothers looks like a challenging film. The movie asks the audience to buy a ridiculous premise and then allows the actors to make up their lines. But, it all works and the movie delivers one funny scene after another. Of course, if you arenít crazy about Ferrell or Reilly, then this movie isnít for you, as they are in every scene. But, if you were on board with Ricky Bobby, then Step Brothers is a no-brainer.

Step Brothers touches my drums on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no intrusive grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are good and the image is never overly dark. The detail level is acceptable for DVD, although the picture is a tad soft at times. Video noise creeps into some scenes, but otherwise the picture is solid. The DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and nicely detailed. The in-film music sounds fine, most notably the two ďsongsĒ performed by Ferrell and Reilly. Surround sound and subwoofer effects come into play during the movieís fight scenes.

The DVD utilized for this review contains both the R-rated and Unrated cuts of the film. The unrated cut runs 8 minutes longer.

The DVD contains an assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Adam McKay, actors Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly, and special guest Baron Davis (and the commentary is scored by Jon Brion). Despite the fact that I love these guys, this may be one of the worst commentaries that I've ever heard. For the first section of the talk, the trio sings while being accompanied by Brion. Then, Davis arrives and it turns into an interview. I realize that there probably wasn't a ton of material to cover for this movie, but I expected more. The Disc contains five EXTENDED & ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 18 minutes. On the surface, these are simply longer versions of scenes from the finished film, but given the improv talents of those involved we get some comedy gold here. The Christmas Eve scene should have been left in the film, as there are some classic moments here. "Line-O-Rama" (6 minutes) features alternate takes from the movie. It's always amazing to see how many different ideas they have for the same scene. Again, there are some great moments here. "'Boats N Hoes' Music Video" (2 minutes) offers the entire video which is only glimpsed in the film. I hate to admit that I laughed throughout the entire thing. "The Making of Step Brothers" (22 minutes) features interviews with Riley, Ferrell, McKay, and other cast and crew members. The piece offers a great deal of on-set footage, included some alternate takes and deleted scenes which aren't found elsewhere on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long