Step Brothers’ plot, at its most basic level, can be described thusly: two single parents meet, fall in love and get married. Each has a son, and each child initially hates the other. Then, after some significant bonding incident, they become best friends. Along the way, they have to overcome certain obstacles but, in the end, everything turns out okay.
If you’re thinking that sounds less like a Will Ferrell movie and more like Parent Trap, then you do so with good cause. The director himself, Adam McKay, describes Step Brothers as being “like a fucked up Disney film from the 60s.” Indeed, when you consider that the titular step-brothers are both around 40 years old, you can see where he’s coming from.
Ferrell plays Brennan Huff, a 39-year-old, unemployed loser who lives at home with his mother. He’s a scarily inept man-child whose lack of development makes you wonder if he has a learning disability. When his mother, Nancy (played to perfection by Mary Steenburgen), marries Dr Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins), the two of them move to the Doback house, where they meet Robert’s son, Dale (John C Reilly). Just like Brennan, Dale is 40 years old, still lives at home, and is unemployed and socially inept.
While the childlike nature of Dale and Brennan is a little creepy at first, it soon becomes of less importance as the jokes and farcical set pieces come into play. Unsurprisingly, there are a few gross-out moments, including possibly the most disturbing scrotum-related moment in cinematic history, but there are also plenty of fantastic one liners, and an unforgettable performance from Adam Scott as Brennan’s overly macho younger brother, Derek. Also worth looking out for is Rob Riggle as one of Derek’s colleagues.
Ferrell is as reliable as ever, nailing the role of comedy simpleton, as well as putting in a beautiful vocal performance for the film’s finale. Of course, he’s a seasoned comedian, so you expect him to get the laughs. His co-star, John C Reilly, is a different matter, of course, being an actor rather than a comedian by trade. Perhaps it’s knowing this fact that makes it harder to swallow his role as Dale. On the whole, though, he’s enjoyable to watch and, frankly, any movie in which you get to see him rapping (“Nachos and lemonheads on my dad’s boat. You won’t go down, ’cause my dick can float”) has got to be worth the money.
Extras Step Brothers is hardly a classic, but it’s still a fairly pleasant way to spend an hour and a half. What really makes this DVD stand out, though, is the commentary. Featuring Ferrell, Reilly, and McKay, pretty much the entire thing is set to music. Jon Brion, who wrote the Disney-esque score for the movie, is also present, and plays several tunes that the stars and director sing along to. Oddly, the NBA basketball player, Baron Davis, also makes an appearance, singing along with some of the commentary. I’m neither a fan of DVD commentaries nor musicals, but it transpires that comedy DVD commentary musicals are rather more entertaining, especially when you get to hear Reilly rapping again (“Don’t eat nuggets off camera. Don’t eat nuggets off camera”). The rest of the extras are as follows: Dale vs Brennan, Boats ’n hoes music video, Prestige worldwide full presentation, The Making of Step Brothers, The Music of Step Brothers.
3 Februray 2009