Fri 25 Jul 2008
Carpentry skills are overrated. This bunk bed looks completely safe.
The long Will Ferrell drought is over (I’ve yet to hear one person tell me “Semi-Pro” is worth seeing) and fans can now get their fill of him and John C. Reilly in all their glory with “Step Brothers”. Reuniting Ferrell with director/co-writer Adam McKay has once again created a stage that allows for jokes to appear seemingly out of nowhere and for all their nonsensical nature, hit you right in the funny bone (which is a terrible name for such a painful place to be struck).
The premise here is that Ferrell’s mother (Steenburgen) marries Reilly’s father (Jenkins) and the two grown men – still living at home of course – must find a way to co-exist … or beat each other senseless in the attempt. The beauty of the film is that there really isn’t a moral and the plot progresses with the realistic equivalent of a magical creature that grants wishes if you catch him at the end of the rainbow (I’m telling you, Warwick Davis is the Leprechaun!)
While an unrealistic story and lack of redeeming factors would normally sink a film faster than you could say “Ishtar”, the sheer joy of sitting down and watching Ferrell, Reilly and company create a stunningly dysfunctional family is pure hilarity. It didn’t take long for the laughs to start and, for the most part, that dumb ass grin on my face stayed put through most of the credits.
Even the little things like watching Ferrell awkwardly figure out whether to say good night to his new step dad with a handshake or hug is an exercise in good times. For me, that’s what make these films work so well, how even the little movements and gestures that the cast interject help to create a sense of uncomfortable uncertainty about where the scene is going. Many of their actions feel like they were thought up on the spot (and many of them were thanks to the freedom McKay reportedly grants in this genre). This “planned spontaneity” translates very well on-screen and is right in my comic wheelhouse.
Also, as they managed to do in “Talladega Nights” (which grows on me the more I watch it), Ferrell and Reilly play off of each other here so well that it’s practically scary. Watching these man-children run the 8-year-old emotional gamut from hating this new person in their life, to becoming best friends in the blink of an eye, to hating each other just as fast – it’s glorious. Both actors have such an ability to shed any sense of shame and just delve into the depths of their characters, no matter how infantile or ridiculous.
And make no mistake, the humor here is of the tasteless variety … and I like it. Unlike other films that simply hit below the belt because they can, the fantastically strung-together diatribes that nearly every actor manages to utter might have your heads reeling – trying to make sure you heard what you thought you did. Also, everyone has the skill to deliver their lines in such a way that no matter how crude the joke, the end result is laughter, rather than a potential flaming on message boards later that night once you’ve figured out just what you want to say.
I thought about trying to piece together some of the more brilliant aspects of the film (Kathryn Hahn’s portrayal of an unsatisfied wife was genius) but really the only sticking point to your enjoyment of the film is your take on Will Ferrell. Do you like him? Does his humor work for you? If yes, then rush right to the theater and get the satisfying feeling of a comedy that actually makes you laugh! What a concept!
If you don’t like him … well … then … read a book. I hear it’s rewarding. I plan on catching this again soon or at the very least once the DVD drops so I can relive some of the more insane elements of the film. “Step Brothers” delivers the goods and I’m happy to slap it with a 4 out of 5. Now I’m off to make my own bunk beds … they made it look so easy.