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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Step Brothers


*** Step Brothers. Comedy.

Directed by: Adam McKay.
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins


We saw this last night at the theater on post. Camden went with us--it's the first R-rated movie he's seen at a theater. Interesting: the theater requires that you sign in if you're bringing an underage kid to an R-rated movie. I'm often disturbed by people bringing young children to ultra-violent movies (I really don't think any 4-year-old needs to see Rambo), but this seemed like CYA overkill to me.

By the way, Step Brothers was rated R for language and fake testicles, which we knew about because Dagny had seen the movie already. She didn't think Camden should see it, but she tends to think of Camden as younger than we do. (In case you didn't see my TT post last week, Camden's 14.) And Camden had wanted to see this while we were still in the States, but we didn't get a chance to go.

Anyway, you've seen the previews, right? That's what the movie's about. 39-year-old Brennan (Will Ferrell) and 40-year-old Dale (John C. Reilly) both still live at home. The trouble starts when Brennan's mom (Mary Steenburgen) marries Dale's dad (Richard Jenkins) and they all move in together.

Brennan and Dale basically act the way they would if they were 10-year-olds in the same situation. Which is possibly a good reason for allowing your kids to see it--or waiting until they have a network TV version that strips out all the F-bombs and those aforementioned fake testicles.

Most of the big gags are in the previews, but not all of them. Like the parts with Brennan's obnoxious overachieving brother Derek (Adam Scott) and Derek's desperate wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn).

Given the premise and the previews, you have to expect crude humor, and that's mostly what you get. The thing is, I bought it. Take 40-year-old single men with no responsibilities, and they're going to be pretty darn crude. Two things I didn't buy, though: the job interviews (like the one in the preview) just seemed fairly pointless, though I did enjoy the one with Seth Rogan's cameo; and the sleepwalking, which was nonsensical. Yeah, yeah, the whole movie was nonsensical, but given the premise, I could buy most of it. The sleepwalking, I couldn't buy.

So I looked up sleepwalking, and maybe their actions were feasible--or at least not any less feasible than the rest of the movie--but it still somehow didn't seem to fit. I'm not sure why.

I also got irritated at the parents, particularly the mom, for making excuses for them and treating them like children. I had to keep reminding myself that the parents' behavior was what enabled these two to act like children.

Step Brothers seemed to have two messages: 1) don't give up your dreams--and that's a good message, and 2) you can either be a stuffed shirt or an idiotic spoiled child: there's no middle ground--which irritated the heck out of me.

Will Ferrell was at his most annoying in this movie. I tend to like his movies, but he got on my nerves here, and I could see what some people find unlikeable about him. John C. Reilly, on the other hand, was great. Dale was just as childish as Brennan, but Reilly underplayed him, while Ferrell overplayed Brennan. But maybe that contrast was necessary. It might not have worked as well if they'd both had more understated performances.

And it did work. Not spectacularly, and this isn't a movie we'll be getting on DVD (we did buy Talladega Nights, which should give you an idea of the relative merit), but it was an entertaining couple of hours, and at $4.50 for first-run tickets, not a bad deal.

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