Brothers from different unfunny mothers 

The Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reunion falls flat.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Will Ferrell (left) and John C. Reilly star in 'Step Brothers.'
  • TOGETHER AGAIN: Will Ferrell (left) and John C. Reilly star in 'Step Brothers.'

I had expected it would be stupid, and it was. I had hoped it would be stupid funny, but it really wasn't.

“Step Brothers” is the “Talladega Nights” reunion movie, bringing back together Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and writer/director Adam McKay. And it's basically the same thing as “Talladega Nights,” except without the cars or funny accents or comedy.

Well, now that I think about it, it's more like “Dumb and Dumber,” a tale of two stupid (in this case step-) brothers who are absurdly self-confident and blunder their way through grown-up life, demolishing everything in their path. Yeah, it's actually exactly like “Dumb and Dumber,” except without Jim Carrey or the Farrelly brothers or comedy.

Okay, maybe that's harsh. It's occasionally funny, from time to time hits a pretty good gag, but those moments are rare enough that you can count them on your fingers, and the rest of the time is padded with material that seems content to coast along to nowhere.

The story's simple enough: Two 40-year-old losers who still live at home become step-brothers when their parents marry. They hate each other's guts, but eventually become BFFs who must learn to contend with life as adults. I'd like to say that hilarity ensues, because the core material's rife with possibility, but mostly we get the same mildly amusing riff on pretty much every Judd Apatow movie ever made.

I am a connoisseur of vulgarity, but here there's no art to it, it's just working as a joke stand-in. There are valiant attempts at random silliness that fall flat, because they mostly consist of Ferrell and Reilly breaking stuff that we don't care about, and doing it in a way that's not particularly inventive or large in scale. Even the comic destruction of an entire sailboat, a moment so big you'd think it would be pretty damn hard to screw up, is just a tiny footnote of an abbreviation of a suggestion of a punch line.

“Step Brothers” is particularly bad because if you do watch it, you'll see the movie it's trying to be, a random and silly and vulgar but nevertheless quite smart commentary on the concept of growing up and the terrible sacrifices we make in the name of self-sufficiency. That movie would have been a hell of a movie, but “Step Brothers” is too bland and forgettable even to dismiss as crap.




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