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STEP BROTHERS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Adam McKay
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Sony
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes (Theatrical), 106 Minutes (Extended)
Release Date: December 2, 2008

“Boats‘N Hoes!”

Film ***

It’s easy to see why most critics were harsh towards Step Brothers during its theatrical run. It’s one of those comedies that is so unapologetically retarded and random in its humor, that you’re either with it from scene one or want nothing to do with it immediately. Being a fan of dumb comedies that are proud to be dumb, I was with the movie from beginning to end.

The movie reunites the stars and director of Talladega Nights for what I think is a far superior laughfest. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly not only star in the movie, but wrote the story along with director Adam McKay. That information alone should indicate the level of insane comedy the movie has to offer.

The storyline is as basic as it gets. Brennan Huff (Ferrell) and Dale Doback (Reilly) are about to become step brothers much against their wishes. Brennan’s mom, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen,) and Dale’s dad, Robert (Richard Jenkins), have recently met, fallen in love, and are now getting married. It would be a happy occasion if it weren’t for the fact that Brennan and Dale, both in their early 40s and unemployed, are now living together and constantly at each other’s throats.

The movie is relentlessly in funny in displaying Brennan and Dale’s unbelievable antics, which of course drive Nancy and Robert up the wall on more than one occasion. Such moments include a fight that breaks out between the two on the family lawn, attracting attention from everyone in the neighborhood. And I can’t leave out the moment where it is revealed that both sons suffer from a sleepwalking disorder.

The story does present an adversary in the form Brennan’s younger brother, Derek (Adam Scott). He’s tormented Brennan all his life, and has turned out to be the more financially successful brother of the two (think Jerry Maguire if he was complete douche). When Dale stands up to Derek by punching him in the face, and quite deservedly so, the two former foes now become best friends and indeed the step brothers they were always meant to be.

But even as they are making up, they manage to cause even more havoc, as in the case of trying to set up bunk beds (one hilarious sight gag). After putting up with too much, Robert instructs the both of them to get a job so they can move out. But since Brennan and Dale like to, as they put it “f*ck sh*t up”, those several interviews don’t go over so well.

Bottom line, if you’re a die hard fan of Ferrell or Reilly, then this movie is going to be a nonstop treat for you. Both are gifted improvers, so it’s clear that most of the story was crafted that way. And they came up with some howling funny moments, most notably a scene where Brennan and Dale turn the dad’s birthday party into a business presentation, with disastrous results.

To sum it up, Step Brothers is very much one of the year’s funniest movies, as well as another success for the Judd Apatow comedy factory. It’s easily Will Ferrell’s funniest movie since Anchorman (looking back, I was a little too kind towards Semi-Pro), and Reilly scores another hilarious gem after the underrated Walk Hard. For my money, they have become the funniest comedy duo in recent memory, and I more than look forward to their next hilarious outing.

BONUS: Seth Rogen appears briefly in a very funny scene during the job interview montage.

Video ***1/2

Sony delivers yet another top-notch looking anamorphic presentation with this release. The picture is strong and quite dynamic in its overall detail, as well as tremendous in color appearance. Some flesh tones did appear a bit oversaturated, but that’s hardly a major complaint. Basically, a strong looking presentation from start to finish!

Audio ***

Quite a lively 5.1 mix for what is basically a dialogue oriented comedy. The moments of slapstick physical comedy, which there is plenty of, along with Jon Brion’s unique music score also provide some standout moments. Dialogue delivery is strong and terrifically clear!

Features ****

This 2-Disc Unrated Edition from Sony is packed with some hilarious extras, as is the case with most Judd Apatow productions on DVD. Disc One contains both the Theatrical and Extended versions of the movie. For extras, we get Extended & Alternate Scenes, a Line-O-Rama, Gag Reel, the full music video for Brennan and Dale’s “Boats ‘N Hoes”, “The Making of Step Brothers” featurette, Bonus Previews and the funniest extra of them all, a musical commentary composed by Jon Brion and featuring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Adam McKay and (are you ready for this?) special guest NBA star Baron Davis. Talk about a first for a commentary, for two different reasons.

Disc 2 includes extras Exclusive to this 2-Disc release, staring with a Digital Copy of the Extended version of the movie. Plus, we get More Extended & Alternate Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Extended Job Interviews and Therapy Sessions, a Prestige Worldwide Full Presentation, “Dale vs. Brennan: Sibling Rivalry”, which is a collection of outtakes of the two fighting each other and a featurette titled “The Music of Step Brothers”. Rounding out the bonus material are two insane featurettes that defy description must be seen to be understood, including “Charlyne Moves In” and “L'Amour en Caravanne”, along with a Red Band trailer for the movie and more Bonus Previews for additional Sony releases.

Summary:

I can’t lie, Step Brothers made me howl with laughter quite frequently. There’s no question that the movie won’t work for everyone, but those familiar with the comedy Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly specialize in will have to recover from laughing so hard when the movie’s over.

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