Step Brothers: Meh.

by Lauren Gitlin July 22, 2008 5:40 pm
<i>Step Brothers</i>: Meh. Time and experience has led me to extrapolate that the filmic offerings of Will Ferrell tend to go one of three ways: Funny But Forgettable (as in Talladega Nights), Surprisingly Hilarious (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), or Pointlessly Heinous (Blades of Glory). It is a rare confluence of factors that produces a genuine comedic achievement like Anchorman and elevates it above the run-of-the-mill masturbatory poo he so frequently churns out.

Sadly, Step Brothers most assuredly does not fall into this last category of insta-classic comedy. The jury is still out on which of the remaining two it ultimately belongs in, but after seeing a screening of it last night and feeling particularly generous after my twelfth caffeinated beverage of the day, I'm gonna vote on Funny But Forgettable.

The fact is that, much like a lot of the slapstick man-child comedies in the great Apatow tradition, Step Brother's best material is the stuff we already saw in the previews: Images of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in all their hulking, fish-bellied, frizzy-haired glory bonding over their mutual love of John Stamos, engaging in amateur karate fights and ad-libbing scenes in which they tell a buttoned-up HR rep to shut her mouth are definitely the highlights of an otherwise long and tedious movie.

Dick jokes and bathroom humor abound -- there's a particularly hysterical bit involving a set of (prosthetic?) testicles being draped over a drum set. But for a movie so lean on plot that it necessarily relies on episodic bursts of over-the-top physical comedy and camp, it shoots its proverbial wad way too early. Forty minutes in, all the best gags are long over and we're faced with the arduous undertaking of wrapping up the shaky narrative cliffhangers that were tenuously established in the first half of the movie: Will our developmentally stunted heroes make good and establish marginally less pathetic existences? (Yes.) Will their respective parents, estranged due mostly to their adolescent antics, reconcile? (Yes.) Will the villains in the guise of the evil younger brother and the playground bullies be foiled? (Yes and yes.)

I'm all for a mindless farcical romp, but my advice? Fire up the TiVo the next time they air a Will Ferrell's Greatest SNL Moments special and use the ten bucks on something that will provide more lasting satisfaction. Like, say, a Ninja sword signed by Randy Jackson.




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