He Ain’t Heavy (Well, He’s Kind of Heavy) – Step Brothers Review

Step Brothers – Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins and Adam Scott. Directed by Adam McKay. Rated MA for coarse language, nudity and sexual references. 98 mins.

You only needed one look at the poster for Step Brothers to know exactly what this film would be like. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, acting like oversized 13-year olds for an hour and a half. They deliver, that’s for sure. Anyone who goes in with those expectations will walk out pretty pleased. However, if you’re not a fan of Ferrell’s manchild shtick, don’t expect to be converted by Step Brothers. In fact, I would even go as far to say this is a ‘fan’s only’ affair. Everyone else has been warned.

It’s love at first sight when elegant divorcee Nancy Huff (Steenburgen) meets widower Robert Doback (Jenkins). Within months they’re married, ready to retire and sail around the world. Only problem of course, is they both have 40-year-old sons still living at home. And not in the ‘living-at-home-to-save-some-money-and-finally-get-my-own-place’ way. More like ‘living-at-home-to-watch-nudie-flicks-and-eat-as-much-cheese-as-I-like’ way. Nancy’s son Brennan (Ferrell) is ultra-sensitive, while Robert’s son Dale (Reilly) is ultra confrontational. The two boys hate each other, particularly when they find out they have to share a room. They spend their first night warning the other not to sleep, and informing them of the unspeakable acts they will do to one another. It’s a creepy scene.

That is pretty much the story of Step Brothers. There is none of the genius ‘biopic spoofing’ structure seen in Talladega Nights. Nor is there even a threadbare ‘panda pregnancy’-esque arc as seen in Anchorman. Step Brothers has no story. Zilch. It picks up story threads like loose change, and makes sure to ditch each one within 10 minutes. Sure, the guys eventually team up in the face of a common enemy: Brennan’s Vanilla Ice loving brother Derek (Scott). They also go to some job interviews (which goes disastrously) and then attempt to set up their own multinational entertainment company (which goes even worse). But all these plots are pretty much there to enhance the ‘Will and John are Brothers!’ concept.

That’s not to say it’s bad. I really liked the fact there was no real story to follow. I could honestly say that I did not expect what these two guys were going to do next. The whole film was an absurd celebration of immaturity and aimlessness. There is barely enough time between scenes to comprehend the madness that has just occured. ‘Look, here’s Brennan and Dale getting beaten up by children – wait, over there! It’s Brennan and Dale in a rap video! No, quick, over here – Brennan and Dale are dressing up as Nazi’s and Klansmen!”

As I mentioned earlier, I think most people already know whether or not they will like this movie. I’ve heard a lot of people say they are sick of Ferrell’s antics, and claim he does the same thing in every film. Call me crazy – but I actually thought Brennan was a nice twist on Ferrell’s usual characters. He’s a sensitive soul, with the voice of an angel (described by Dale as a mix of Fergie and Jesus), who just wants to be with his mommy. Then there is Dale, who is the aggressive teenager that no one understands. I think (and yes, I realise how crazy it is to say this), there is some really good acting on behalf of this duo. Maybe I’m an apologist, maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see, or maybe I’m just a stupid 20-year-old guy who loves dumb comedies. Or maybe all three.

A lot of credit needs to go to the supporting cast, particularly Adam Scott as the insufferable Derek, and Mary Steenburgen as Brennan’s clingy mother. Late in the film, she is accused of being an ‘enabler’. With a kid like Brennan, she seems more like a hostage. (By the way, Steenburgen is looking pretty fine for a 55 year old.)

The problem is, Step Brother’s just didn’t have the ‘crying-with-laughter’ effect of McKay’s earlier efforts. It’s definately a step-up from Ferrell’s Semi-Pro, and it was also great to see the brilliant Reilly in another funny role, especially after the amazing Walk Hard. But this time, I didn’t leave the cinema with millions of funny lines racing around my head, and by the time I got home I could barely remember the majority of the film. However, you can’t deny that the film is great anarchic fun. So if you’ve already seen WALL-E, and you’re choosing between this and The House Bunny this weekend, I hope you make the right choice.


Check the trailer out here.

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