Step Brothers, the new R-rated comedy from the Judd Apatow sausage factory, is a look at extreme Peter Pan Syndrome. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, last seen together in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, play 40ish men who still live at home and become bunkmates and reluctant step brothers when their parents marry. The familiar reprimand “Grow up and act your age” fell on deaf ears with these guys.
Ferrell and Reilly play Brennan Huff, a thirty-nine-year-old who recently lost his part-time job at Pet Smart who lives with his mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) and Dale Doback, an unemployed forty-year-old who still resides under his father Robert’s (Richard Jenkins) roof. When Nancy and Robert tie the knot Brennan and Dale are forced to share a room in Robert’s luxurious home. Sparks fly as the two immature men clash, arguing and beating one another with golf clubs.
Eventually their shared love of Star Wars and karate helps them find a bond and they become tight friends. Unfortunately as one big immature, lazy force they are twice as destructive as before. Their aggressive behavior prevents them from getting jobs and finally drives a wedge between Nancy and Robert. Will their parent’s impending divorce finally force these middle-aged slackers to grow up?
Step Brothers is essentially an 80s teen comedy with two 40 year olds in the roles that would have been played by young nerdy actors Anthony Michael Hall and Larry B. Scott in 1985. It’s got a meaner edge and certainly worse language than the classic teen comedies of twenty years ago, but the message of being true to yourself could have come straight from the pen of teen scribe guru John Hughes. Besides, any movie that uses a Dane Cook Pay-Per-View Special as a punch line is OK by me.
The chemistry between Ferrell and Reilly as the poster boys for arrested development saves this one-joke idea from becoming monotonous. They play off one another well and as their step-sibling-rivalry escalates so does their outrageously childish behavior. It’s like watching two overweight, foul mouthed ten year olds with thinning hair going at each other.
Step Brothers is silly R-rated summer moving-going fun.