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Review: Step Brothers (2008)

Directed by: | 98 minutes | | Actors: , , , Richard Jenkins, , Wayne Federman, , , , , Bryce Hurless, , , , , , , Seth Rogen

Adam McKay and Will Ferrell like each other. After “Anchorman” (2004), they made “Talladega Nights” () and now “Step Brothers”, which also includes Ferrell’s “Talladaga Nights” opponent John C. Reilly. Apparently that cooperation was also satisfactory. Ferrell is the nicest by the way, but Reilly is an excellent declarant. In “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (2007; a parody of “Walk the Line” from 2005), he dies alone as a comedian, without the support of Ferrell. Here, however, the two complement each other very well.

Do you know “Talladega Nights”? It can be described as an excellent satire, a kind of “Spinal Tap” for the car racing business, but slightly more hilarious. Yet this did not make it to Dutch cinemas and the same goes for “Step Brothers”. Is it Adam McKay’s humor that we don’t understand here in the Netherlands, or is it Will Ferrell? In America he is not undisputed either. He always does exactly what he likes.

The language here is very coarse, as (many) adolescents simply talk to each other (just like in “Superbad” for example) and that must have been a problem for the film approval in America. All those fucks and shits make the age limit a bit higher, which is not really a problem, because Ferrell, despite his immature image, does not make children’s films. He’s crazy and stubborn, but somehow very serious about all that craziness; characteristics of an excellent comedian, you might say. Nevertheless, the Dutch cinema operators and / or distributors do not appreciate him. In the video store, however, he slowly begins to manifest himself as a kind of cult hero.

“Step Brothers” is not satire. This is just a “crazy comedy” as it is so subtly called. The story comes close to reality, but the effect is far from it. The empathy is real and that is why it works. Ferrell and Reilly are a kind of teenagers of fifteen, who are hopelessly stuck in that age. This fact is implemented so tightly that it becomes hilarious. For example, when the “boys” piss each other off, or watch porn magazines in the tree house, or when they ask their parents for permission to make a bunk bed. Father replies: “Listen, you don’t have to ask that, because you are adults”, she: “Okay, but is it allowed or not?”.

Will Ferrell is a special talent, a great craftsman. You gotta love it, but yes, that’s how it goes with comedy. There is no genre so diverse in taste: what one person finds hilarious is silly nonsense to another. Nevertheless, it is absolutely clear that he is a serious filmmaker. The collaboration with McKay and Reilly has already produced three quirky comedies and hopefully more are to come. And then let it come out in the Dutch cinema, please, because so far they absolutely deserved it.

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