Stupid fun just too stupid

Comedy dream team of McKay, Apatow and Ferrell can’t deliver in “Step Brothers”

Jay Boller


“Step Brothers”

Directed by: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly
Rated: R
Showing at: Area Theatres

will Ferrell, you perennial tease, you. A scant few comic actors possess his talent, but even fewer have become so accustomed to mediocrity. “Step Brothers” was poised to break the “Blades of Glory”/”Semi-Pro” streak of missteps, if not solely because it isn’t a hackneyed sports spoof, then surely because Ferrell cowrote the film with “Anchorman” director Adam McKay and comedy kingmaker Judd Apatow was on to produce. Everything was in place.

Somehow, things never panned out. The story finds Ferrell and co-star John C. Reilly pushing 40, jobless and living with their respective parents. When said parents meet, marry and move in at a staggering pace, Ferrell and Reilly are forced to cohabitate. But their state of loserdom is more pronounced then you’d expect. Not only are they still living in their parents’ home, but they apparently haven’t progressed emotionally since the age of 7. And that’s not in the usual Apatow sense of, “Oh, we’re 40 but we still make dick jokes and smoke weed.” This breed of arrested development is truly frightening. The two men actually have the brains of middle-schoolers.

It’s those personalities that hold the film back. For every hilarious gag (there are quite a few), there are three more that consist of Ferrell and Reilly writhing on the floor spouting off expletives. If the thought of the two brothers sleepwalking through the kitchen while smearing food over themselves sounds like a gas, you get to endure it twice. Really, twice. Nonconsecutively. The ratios of funny to beyond stupid are that lopsided.

Ferrell and Reilly benefit from a strong supporting cast, which – at the very least – provides breaks from what can become an almost unbearable show of toddler theatrics from the two. Adam Scott (“Monster-in-Law,” “The Aviator”) plays Ferrell’s biological brother and absolutely nails the “yuppie douche” role. Richard Jenkins (“Six Feet Under”) plays the somewhat archetypal “furious dad” capably.

Ferrell, McKay and Apatow have not lost their touch. There are too many moments of brilliance that sneak through (Ferrell playing a lumberjack for 30 seconds, in which he breaks down a door and spouts off “I’ve traveled 500 miles to give you my seed”) to toss them to the wayside. But their current trend of jokes leans toward Reilly farting for 30 seconds at a job interview. Which, of course, can be seen in this particular picture. That said, their next project could be golden.