Directed by Adam McKay
Reviewed by Aly Semigran Opens Fri.,
Judd Apatow, you're starting to confuse me. You've had your hand in some of the funniest films in recent history: Knocked Up, Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Anchorman, to name a few. And Pineapple Express looks like it has the potential to be the next great cult flick.
But when you start adding unfunny drivel like Drillbit Taylor and now Step Brothers to your lineup of comedy greatness, audiences question whether it's worth handing over $10 to see what's been churned out from the Apatow funny factory.
Step Brothers reteams Apatow with the Talladega Nights gang--Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and John C. Reilly. Ferrell and Reilly play Brennan and Dale, two middle-aged unemployed foul-mouthed losers living with their parents. When Brennan's mom (Mary Steenburgen) and Dale's dad (Richard Jenkins) get hitched, their two sons must learn to cohabitate peacefully.
The men-children hate each other at first--so much so that in a particularly gross scene, one rubs his exposed genitalia on the other's prized possession--but they eventually bond over a shared enemy and a mutual love of karate, John Stamos and ironic T-shirts. And as in most Apatow movies, the main characters face a major dilemma and are forced to grow up fast.
The difference between successfully hilarious Apatow flicks and Step Brothers lies in the audiences' feelings toward the characters. Sure, Seth Rogen's Ben in Knocked Up was a stoner-slacker, but he was a terribly sweet, likable stoner-slacker. This allowed the audience to sympathize and root for his success. In Step Brothers all the characters--especially protagonists Derek and Robert--are so wholly awful that moviegoers find themselves wishing the worst and hoping for failure.
There's a way to pull off dick and fart jokes and still somehow make a genuinely funny movie, but here it just feels supremely childish and a little bit sad.