A lot of noise was made prior to the release of Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro earlier this year. Well, the publicity made an awful lot of noise, but it seemed that audiences didn’t really hear that noise. Similarly, John C. Reilly had his own bout with box office failure (even in the midst of a Golden Globe nod) with Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Some speculated that both films lost audience because they were rated R. Others realized that while there was talent behind them, neither film was comedic genius.
Now, Ferrell and Reilly have put their heads together to give us Step Brothers. In the film, each plays a thirtysomething slacker who has never moved out of their parents’ houses. When their parents meet each other and fall in love, the two must learn to be step-brothers. At first, they hate each other, but after discovering their love of velociraptors and John Stamos, they become friends.
Previously, Ferrell and Reilly teamed up as best friends in Talladega Nights, but Reilly’s character was decidedly secondary to Ricky Bobby. In Step Brothers, they equally share the screen, and that is really the comedic key that makes things work.
In the hands of different actors, Step Brothers could have been the most excruciating film of the decade. However, Ferrell and Reilly have such chemistry together, and their ability to go over the top makes this film utterly ludicrous, horridly uncomfortable and ridiculously funny.
The film is far raunchier than you might get from the trailer. But fear not, more F-bombs are dropped than in an episode of Denise Richards’ reality television show. While the writing sometimes falls to the lowest common denominator by just dropping in uncreative swearing, there are plenty of moments where plenty of thought was put into the raunch dialogue.
Step Brothers seems to be very much a concept film that was created on the pitch alone. After all, a studio head can’t possibly say no to Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly playing hyperactive adult versions of eleven year olds. They commit completely to these roles, and anyone who has spent any time with children should be impressed with how the duo can channel the brittle, bitter, emotionally unstable pre-teen.
While both Ferrell and Reilly misfired with R-rated comedies, this one might really do the trick. Having Adam McKay behind the camera helps flesh this film out to the screwball comedy it should be. The movie is no Anchorman, but it definitely channels that film’s level of inappropriate humor and uncomfortable moments.
The real key to the acting of this film is the fact that no one takes their roles too seriously. However, they shoot everything as if they do, and that’s how great comedy is born. The audience knows they’re in on the joke, but by delivering the comedy without the wink and the nod to the fourth wall sells the movie.
If you don’t like Will Ferrell or John C. Reilly, you best stay away from this one. However, if you have been hoping for a team-up between the two since Ricky Bobby won his final race, this is more your style.
THE UPSIDE: Hilarious film if you like Ferrell, Reilly and raunch.
THE DOWNSIDE: Not as good as Anchorman… but seriously, what is?
ON THE SIDE: I’ve never found Kathryn Hahn particularly attractive, but she is totally hot in this film.