Ferrell, Reilly and supporting cast deliver a well-played loose
concept comedy in “Step Brothers.”
Ferrell, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins and John C. Reilly in "Step
Will Ferrell’s new movie, “Step Brothers,” (opening July 25) gets a lot of laughs by following an
improvisation-inspired sketch comedy roadmap.
With co-star John C. Reilly and director Adam McKay, who co-wrote the
story and screenplay with Ferrell, and an able supporting cast, “Step
Brothers” also follows the time-honored formula of pitting addled main
characters up against the real world (as in “Anchorman” and “Talladega
Ferrell and Reilly play two man-children paired together at first
unwillingly when their respective single parents meet (and for the
convenience of the plot) quickly marry and move in together. Richard
Jenkins, as Reilly’s father, and Mary Steenburgen, as Ferrell’s mom,
show perfect understanding of the tone that’s called for, never
overplaying or underplaying anything, always getting just the right
amount of conviction in their characters. Adam Scott, as Ferrell's
successful real brother and a nemesis for the duo, also hits just the
The two leads play their characters, both still jobless and living with
their parent, with complete commitment to their obliviousness, acting as
though they were 12-year-olds only just past the point where the plot of
the movie will no longer let them.
Told that their parents want to sell the house to take a sailing trip,
Ferrell, in man-child mode, asks in totally credulous voice, “Is the
house haunted?” Ferrell and Reilly also have a lot of fun with two
scenes where they wreak havoc in the house because they’re sleepwalking.
The movie almost goes off the rails with mean-spiritedness at one point
where Ferrell and Reilly push their long-suffering parents to the point
that their marriage is threatened by having to cope with their antics;
then end up locked in buffoonish combat in the yard of the house.
But McKay and company do bring “Step Brothers” back from this brink for
the last act of the movie, which is also equally well-played as the
stepbrothers magically take on responsible, adult personalities.
“Step Brothers” may not quite match “Elf” or “Old School” in the Will
Ferrell pantheon, but it is another welcome entry in his string of
formula comedies that do deliver just a little more.