Combustible Celluloid
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With: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Andrea Savage, Lurie Poston, Elizabeth Yozamp, Seth Rogen
Written by: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, based on a story by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, John C. Reilly
Directed by: Adam McKay
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, and pervasive language
Running Time: 112
Date: 07/25/2008

Step Brothers (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Friends and Frustrations

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Will Ferrell's latest comedy is yet another inspired attempt to mine his particular brand of repressed juvenile humor, but this time he goes a little further with a sly commentary on the elusive definition of "growing up." Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) lives with his single mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen -- only 15 years older than Ferrell). And Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) lives with his single father, Dr. Robert (Richard Jenkins). Both men behave as if they were young teenagers, lazy, spontaneous, and self-serving. There's no hint as to why or how they got that way, but both Reilly and Ferrell do an uncanny job tapping into their inner teenage boy. When Nancy and Robert meet, fall in love and marry, the boys are forced to move in together. They instantly hate each other, but quickly become best friends. The real anchor and driving force of the film are Steenburgen and Jenkins, whose realistic portrayals of realistic people offset the boys' behavior. Nancy and Robert share a dream of exiting the rat race and retiring together on a boat, but the film pays close attention as their marriage begins to shatter under the strain of these two grown children. A second character, Brennan's younger brother, provides more commentary. Derek (Adam Scott) was an abrasive jock in high school, but now working a successful corporate job selling helicopters, he behaves exactly the same; yet his behavior is "acceptable," especially to the doctor. The film's main line of comedy relies on Ferrell and Reilly -- who look and act virtually the same -- clowning around and playing with boyish insults and inexperienced use of swear words, and it works, but the underlying themes are far more fascinating. Kathryn Hahn also gets some laughs as Derek's suffering, repressed wife, and Seth Rogen appears in one scene. (Judd Apatow produced.)

DVD Details: I only received the single-disc, theatrical, widescreen edition from Columbia/Sony, but it's pretty packed with good extras. There are 18 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, the usual Apatow "line-o-rama" reel of ad-libs, a gag reel, a music video for "Boats N' Hoes," a 22-minute making-of featurette and trailers. Best of all is a bizarre "musical" commentary track with Ferrell, Reilly, director McKay, plus Step Brothers

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