'Step Brothers' by Adam McKay Review: Pure silliness, but fun

in Movies & TV Showslast year


I'm really not sure what caused it, but I had a sudden urge to revisit the film Step Brothers the other night. Craving some really idiotic comedy at the hands of John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell. I'm not sure how many times I have seen the film now, but it is far from a favourite of mine. Though the last viewing was many years ago, to the point where seeing its release year of 2008 was quite the surprise. Certain it had been released sooner. With existential dread having seen how much time had passed and and a want to laugh at stupid scenarios, I felt a bit nostalgic going back into Step Brothers. Barely remembering a lot of it, and ultimately finding it far funnier than I did before.

Step brothers is a strange film, one that came at the height of the 2008 recession and the hardships it would bring to many. With themes that resemble the economic struggles of many adults, though taken with a comedic look; Step Brothers in a way is a film that represented people's inability to grow, with various struggles keeping them back. While this is just one way to look at it, I find it quite nice to think that this silly film could have actually helped people laugh at more serious issues, ones we face even today as we clearly follow a similar direction.

Though, this is a film where you can very easily just turn off your brain and laugh for just over an hour. Not really seeking out any additional themes or deep meanings behind it. And that's fine. My viewings have been precisely that, too.

Step Brothers


Western society has always poked fun at the idea of adults living with their parents still. This weird notion that if you haven't moved out of your parent's house from a young age, you're ultimately infantile or a loser. In many nations, to stay home going into adulthood is to be expected. Taking care of family, having community, and ensuring your loved ones aren't alone. The western ideology putting a negative stigma on the idea of staying home as it doesn't fit into the endless growth of capitalism, where less people turn to renter's and home buyers. While this is still the case, it has certainly shifted a bit as economic factors hit hard into each next generation. Jobs harder to get, salaries barely budging despite constant rising costs everywhere else.

Though Step Brothers doesn't really have anything to do with this, and instead takes the idea of two adult men going into their forties that still live with their parents. These two men having never grown up, still insanely infantile. Forty-something but with the same bedrooms they had as children. Still playing videogames and playing with toys, doing the exact same things they did thirty-something years prior. The two coming together to become step brothers after their aging parents decide to marry. What ensues is these two grown men being forced to live with each other, but stubborn and immature, their personalities clash.

Much of the humour from the film comes from the simple fact that these grown men are acting like children still. And it works in the film's favour as it allows for this simple idea to be taken advantage of through the film's narrative structure: our introduction to the characters, followed by their introductions to each other, and thus the inevitable growth of friendship that comes to the two of them. At a glance it may seem like this idea can grow exhausting quite quickly and lose its magic, which is quite true. There is only so much you can do with this idea until it feels overdone. But the narrative structure allows for it to be split up slightly, allowing for hardships and character development to split up the comedy.

Beneath some of the comedy is a more serious undertone, however. The fact that these two adults are the way they are out of some sort of escapism over trauma experienced as children, pushing them into isolation and into lives in which they never really put themselves out into the world and facing any challenge. This idea comes at a later part in the film, and isn't taken too seriously as to steer from the comedy, but does give a bit of emotional back story to these characters; which I think helps given at some points it can be difficult to root for them. To some degree, the film still tries to add comedy to these moments by making the scenarios quite silly. Embarrassing moments for the characters that seem a bit farfetched.

Admittedly, it is towards the second half of the film that it does start to feel a bit weak. As the comedy takes a bit of a desperate measure to maintain the laughs and of course by doing so it requires increasing the drama and silliness. It does to some degree remove some of the fun of the simple idea that two adult step brothers refuse to grow up and act like kids, but it's a necessary step in getting the film going and trying to tell a story to serve an inevitable conclusion for these characters. It isn't handled poorly, but there is a bit of charm that is lost at the expense of getting the ball rolling. With this comes simple directing and cinematography. For a comedy film this is no surprise. There isn't anything particularly artistic about it all. It utilizes some editing techniques and music at certain parts of the film, but it's nothing special that'll have you remembering specific moments for the filmmaking alone. This side of things largely forgettable, but again hardly a negative as it's expected for a film of this genre. It does what it necessary and it does it well.

Still, for some light viewing in the evening, Step Brothers is a great film to watch to unwind with a little bit of chaos still. Chaos that is incredibly stupid, rare, and funny. This is an idea that is quite unique, and it's given enough time to be explored without overstaying. The some of the highlights of the film come with the characters coming together finally after clashing, now combing their idiotic minds. It's a film that has plenty of memorable moments, and I was surprised to see how many of them I had actually managed to forget since my last viewing. Somewhat sad that Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly didn't join forces a few more times to create more silly shoes and films. The two definitely work well together, with similar appearances and styles of humour. I don't think the film would've worked so well without them. And the two definitely carry the film with their performances.

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I haven't seen this movie in a while, but it's genius.

The whole "Catalina Wine Mixer" sequence, the song "Por ti Volaré" and Dale's awesome drum solo; it's completely CINEMA!