Unemployment Takes Toll on Marriage in Dysfunctional Family Drama
This sorry shocksploitation flick elicited exactly one unforced laugh from the audience at the screening I attended, and that was from a scene already spoiled by the commercial. It’s the one where John C. Reilly jumps on the top of a bunk bed causing it to collapse onto Will Ferrell on the lower mattress. So, if you’ve watched the trailer, then you’ve already witnessed the comedic high point of Step Brothers, a sitcom which breaks the genre’s fundamental law by failing in its ever endeavor to be funny.
Not that it isn’t gross from beginning to end. Sleazy does it in this one-trick pony about a couple of middle-aged adolescents who refuse to grow up. At the point of departure of this sophomoric adventure we find 39 year-old Brennan “Nighthawk” Huff (Ferrell) unemployed and still living at home with his divorced mom, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen). And the same can be said about 40 year-old slacker Dale “Dragon” Doback (John C. Reilly), a parasite who is sponging off his widowed dad, Robert (Ricard Jenkins).
Brennan is a couch potato content to fritter away his days eating junk food in front of the TV while Dale divides his time between managing a fantasy baseball league online and playing the drums in a room he refers to as his “beat laboratory.” The only reason these lazy slobs ever cross paths is because their parents lock eyes and fall in love across a crowded auditorium at a medical conference.
After a whirlwind romance, Nancy and Robert decide to marry and move in together. This means that their spoiled sons must not only live under the same roof but also share the same bedroom. The new step brothers’ instant dislike for each other initiates an escalating turf war marked by infantile antics like Brennan rubbing his private parts on Dale’s sacred drum set, and the latter getting even by threatening to sleep with his mother.
The pranksters prove to be particularly fond of fart jokes and sexual preference slurs, in case you find either of those brands of humor particularly appealing. When not appealing to the lowest common denominator, Step Brothers devotes most of its energy to a steady stream of product endorsements, including Mountain Dew, Heinz Ketchup, Oreo Cookies, Izod Clothing, Doritos Corn Chips, Pepsi, Callaway Golf Clubs, Kitchen Aid Appliances , Bekins Van Lines, Wells Fargo Bank, Range Rover, Outback Steak House, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Hallmark Cards, Hustler Magazine, Zildjian Cymbals, Ampeg Amplifiers, Star Wars, CBS’ Cold Case, Metallica and Corona Light Beer, to name a few.
In between all the shameless ads, the plot revolves around the newlyweds getting fed up with the sibling rivalry and giving their sons a month to find a job and another place to stay. Too bad this re-teaming of Ferrell and Reilly failed to generate any magic, as did their prior outing in Talladega Nights.
And with exhibitionist Ferrell finding excuses to expose himself in numerous movies, he’s leaving himself in danger of going down in cinematic history as the man who nude too much.