A killer concept that has been turned into a sometimes amusing, occasionally hilarious summer laugh fest, Step Brothers should please Will Ferrell fans.
Will Ferrell is back on-target in the dumb movie sweepstakes as Brennan Huff, an over-grown, overly sensitive son who has never bothered to move out of single mom's (Mary Steenburgen) house even though he's 40. When she meets, falls in love with and marries an older doctor (Richard Jenkins) all before the opening credits are over, Brennan must move into his new stepfather's home where--you guessed it--39 year-old loser and would-be musician Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) has been living with Dad all these years as well. The new siblings, who give stunted growth a whole new definition, bunk together like 10-year olds with an instant rivalry that causes havoc in the household. Soon they find themselves birds of the same feather when fed-up dad announces he is selling the house and going on an around-the-world cruise with his new bride. The hapless pair are ordered to find decent jobs and a new place to live--a prospect neither relishes.
After an earlier misstep this year with the inane Semi-Pro, Ferrell is back in his comfort zone and finding new sparks opposite Reilly, who despite the failure of his recent starring comedy Walk Hard, continues to show natural comedic abilities. The two are fun to watch as they mine a lot of laughs playing imbecilic but lovable adolescent middle-aged men--Peter Pans who just never grew up. Still, it's the supporting cast that really shines. Jenkins--enjoying the best year of his career especially with his stellar turn in The Visitor is now complementing it with his riotous portrait of a put-upon dad, dealing with a couple of morons who have overstayed their welcome by about 20 years. Steenburgen manages to invest the rather colorless mother role with dignity, even earning a couple of laughs on her own. Adam Scott as Ferrell's real-estate mogul brother is consistently fun, particularly in leading a family sing-a-long while driving to bro's house. Also of note, Kathryn Hahn as his mousy but extremely kinky wife who tries to get down and dirty with Reilly.
Ferrell's writing partner Adam McKay is not only co-scripting again but back behind the camera, guiding Ferrell's and Reilly's on-screen nuttiness. Adam McKay, an SNL veteran who was responsible for two of Ferrell's biggest hits , Anchorman and Talladega Nights knows from experience exactly how to take these over-the-top situations and wring every last laugh out of them. Movies like this are hit and miss, so give McKay credit for hitting more than he misses. Each actor, even the lesser-billed ones, have their moments to shine, and it's a nice tribute to McKay's laid back direction that none of them bellyflop. The premise of Step Brothers clearly presented some potentially rich comic possibilities and McKay and company uncover most of them. Certainly the film should strike a responsive chord with those faced with grown kids either coming back home to live or never leaving in the first place--if not quite to THESE extremes.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.