To say that Will Ferrell plays the same character in almost every movie he does would be an understatement. Unfortunately it’s a hit or miss performance, with some roles being laugh out loud funny while others flounder. Ferrell’s latest role comes to us in Step Brothers, a movie from writer/director Adam McKay, who has worked with Ferrell on Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Having known that I was already predisposed into hating the movie since both of his past pairings with Ferrell were complete failures in my humble opinion. Surprisingly, Step Brothers is heads and shoulders above anything the duo have done before, but it’s not saying much.
In Step Brothers, Ferrell teams up with his oft comedy counterpart John C. Reilly, as they tackle the “man-child” role that has become popular lately. The basic gist of the movie can be summed up quickly as two single parents remarry and move in together, bringing their unemployed 40-year-old sons with them. The two develop an intense sibling rivalry, but eventually the two step brothers are forced to grow up and do something with their lives. The movies goes to the extreme in some cases, most notably the dysfunctional family situation and the absurd situations the two step brothers place themselves in.
Brennan and Dale, Ferrell and Reilly respectively, are mirror images of themselves. They’re constantly trying to out due the other in the harm and laziness department. In the end though the old cliche’s shine through, when faced with adversity they reunite to help themselves and their loved ones. While they may be growing up, they’re still as stupid as ever. Only this time they don’t look as bad when bumbling through life. What helped this movie was the supporting cast that helped level out the absurdity. Adam Scott put in a god performance as Brennan’s successful younger brother Derek, while Andrea Savage was great as his repressed wife. Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins put in good performances as the parents, helping ground the film in some reality. There were a few surprise appearances as well which I won’t ruin, but it has to be said that they only added to the humor in the movie.
As you’d expect with a movie like this the acting is nothing Oscar worthy, it’s come to a point where Ferrell and Reilly can phone in these performances now since they’ve been doing so many of these films. To be fair though, you can’t say they’re bad at it. Step Brothers offers absolutely nothing new to the genre and to filmaking, having said that it’s fair to say that it’s a movie where you simply turn off your brain to have a few laughs. Don’t expect a great comedy, least you intend on disappointing yourself.