Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Step Brothers: Can Ferrell and Reilly recreate their magic?




Will Ferrell inspires about as much passion regarding his status as almost anyone else in movies. Is he a one-note talent-less hack who has one joke or is he a talented comedian who keeps people laughing? If you watch for long you will hear passionate arguments both ways.


John C. Reilly is a guy on the rise. In Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby (2006) he played the dumb as a post sidekick to Ferrell's title role and he was hilarious. Their "Shake...and bake" celebration has become legendary as has the "That...just...happened" line. He followed that up with a star turn in the underrated but hilarious Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007). In Walk Hard he was indeed hilarious, though the jokes were cruder. Matter of fact, Will Ferrell has been getting cruder as well, possibly in response to the success of Judd Apatow movies recently. It seems to be a trend as evidenced by the joke of Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler) "pleasuring" his elderly customers in You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008) which is apparently even more explicit than his breast fondling of Jessica Biel in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007). Apatow has ramped up the obscenity level and long-established comedians are trying to keep up. Oh, by the way...one possible reason for the ramped up nastiness? This is produced by the Apatow Company...just sayin'.


You figure that out early in Step Brothers (2008) when the primary joke is established. That would be the joke of dropping the F-bomb. Pretty much everybody does it. It is funny to drop the F-bomb because it is done by loser stay at home 40 year old Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell). It is funny to drop the F-bomb because it is done by loser stay at home 40 year old Dale Doback (John C. Reilly). It is funny to drop the F-bomb because it is done by Brennan's younger, highly successful brother TJ Huff (Jason Davis). It is funny to drop the F-bomb because it is done by "classy" Dr. Doback (Richard Jenkins)...by "classy" mother Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen), by everyone referring to the "F-in California Wine Mixer" over and over and over and over by everyone even remotely connected in even the loosest way with the plot. Yeah, that is pretty much the main joke. It is certainly the most-repeated joke...just check out the movie quotes...which is saying something because this movie does nothing if not repeating a joke.


Most of the jokes have to do with 39 or 40 year old men who act like immature, spoiled 12 year old jerks.


And frankly, they are often hilarious. The insult battles have some classic lines. When he tells him he is going to "fall off your dinosaur" in one age-related joke it is quite hysterical. And their music video, "Boats and Hos" should not be missed.


On the other hand, their sleep-walking is, even by Ferrell and Apatow standards, almost unbelievably juvenile, unfunny, and hard to watch.


I know this review is all over the place...but so was the movie. It ranges from hilarious to mildly amusing to mildly stupid to abominably bad.


Will Ferrell (and John C. Reilly fans, for that matter) will find this more of the same and love it. Ferrell haters will think it abysmal and those who can take him or leave him will probably be right there with me...I wish I had waited and rented it. I would have liked it more because I could have written down the classic quotes which were plentiful and should be used, and could have ignored the rest. Well, not all of it...the drum tea-bag scene, the Boats & Hos video, the come-ons by Tj's Wife (Laimarie Serrano) and so forth were pretty hilarious as well. Enjoy.

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