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"Step Brothers"

Directed by Adam McKay.
Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  7/29/08


With "Step Brothers", one can only hope that Will Ferrell only ever works with writer/director Adam McKay, who directed him previously in both "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights."  Damn, this movie is funny.

Funny...and, in a lot of ways, completely wrong and very deserving of its R rating thanks to dialogue I didn't see coming when I watched this film's trailer.  Ripping off "Get a Life" and updating it for the new school, "Step Brothers" is the story of Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins, character actor extraordinaire) and Nancy Duff (the timeless Mary Steenburgen), who meet at a hearing aid conference and have a fling that leads to a wedding just a short time later.  When they combine households, they have one significant issue:  both of them have unemployed, slacker, 40-year-old sons living at home, Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (John C. Reilly).  So, when the doc and Nancy move in together, they have NO IDEA what kind of hell they are going to raise when Brennan and Dale share a room and have to get jobs in order to survive.

The setup is great, but the film has (kind of like "Anchorman") about a half-dozen truly great belly laughs mixed in amongst its already-funny premise.  I think that The Gutbuster is the key to making a comedy good versus great, and while "Step Brothers" won't replace "Old School" as the best comedy of the last five years, it will be a movie that I'll watch when it comes on HBO ad nauseam soon.  Without giving any of those away here, Reilly and Ferrell have really got it going here; the parent characters get a few good laughs along with the brothers; I thought the ending was the perfect way to wrap things up; amazingly, dirty (mostly) works well here despite the occasional slide into toilet humor.

Outside of the totally ridiculous character of Brennan's brother's wife played by Kathryn Hahn (the lines she delivers when she comes on to Dale will either make you howl or make you look at your buddy and say, out loud, "What the fuck?") and the first post-credits sequence, "Step Brothers" mostly works.  I'm amazed more people aren't talking about this movie, given the sheer lack of good comedy out this summer (and, the only film that will give "Tropic Thunder" a run for its money, in terms of box office).

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09