In "Step Brothers," the latest comedic offering by writer/director Adam McKay ("Talladega Nights") and Will Ferrell ("Semi-Pro"), two spoiled guys become competitive stepbrothers after their single parents get hitched.
The countless commercials and theatrical previews instantly sell the concept with outrageous comical bits such as two grown men building a bunk bed, doing karate in the garage and even trying to bury each other alive. Unfortunately, those are the funniest parts of "Step Brothers," and if you've seen any of these trailers or TV spots, you've already seen too much.
39-year-old Brennan (Will Ferrell) and 40-year-old Dale (John C. Reilly) become stepbrothers and don't hit it off, in fact they pure straight hate each other. They're forced to share a bedroom in which they stay up all night hurling insults at each other. "As soon as your eyes shut I'm going to punch you square in the face," you know - the typical Will Ferrell lines we've heard in every one of his movies ever.
The two are immature, middle-aged and overgrown - way too old to be parading around the house in Star Wars pajamas, though this reviewer doesn't see anything childish about that at all. After sharing a mutual disgust for Brennan's dickweed of a younger brother Derek (Adam Scott), the two begin to bond and become friends. In fact, you've seen the transformation already. The brothers learn that, not only do they both love Velociraptors, they would both sleep with John Stamos if they were chicks. It's after this brief but very important revelation the two become best friends.
Cue the montage of juvenile humor and shenanigans that has made Will Ferrell a household name. Dale and Brennan's parents eventually lose their cool and demand the irresponsible brothers get real jobs, which leads to yet even more hilarity - though it is nothing new, and if "Semi-Pro" left you feeling exhausted of Will Ferrell's typical shtick, then don't expect a lot more from "Step Brothers," though it is better than his underwhelming basketball flick.
Unlike hits like "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Step Brothers" is Rated R with tons of crude humor and explicit language - maybe too much. It just isn't that funny to hear Will Ferrell drop F-bombs every other minute. He was always much funnier on Saturday Night Live when he showed restraint and provided a more subtle brand of humor. "Step Brothers" would benefit from more outrageously comical bits and less purposefully crude and explicit humor.
The biggest difference between "Step Brothers" and Ferrell's other films is the lack of quotability. Minus the bunk bed accident, the John Stamos man-love, there isn't really anything memorable about the film. As a SNL skit, "Step Brothers" could have been classic but the fact is, it loses steam and fizzles out as a full-length film. 10 years from now people will still be reciting lines from "Old School" and "Anchorman," and "Step Brothers" will be but a reminder of Ferrell going back to the well too many times.