Following up their success in Talladega Nights, Will Ferrell and John C. Reily re-team for the hilarious, raunchy Step Brothers. While certainly not a movie for the prudish or those looking for “intelligent” comedy, Step Brothers is here for an audience looking to relax and laugh. It’s easily one of the best comedies of 2008.
Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reily) are 40-year olds still living at home, with no ambition or common sense. The film takes on the style of Dumb and Dumber, with two complete idiots trying to make it in the world, yet having no concept of how that works. Their antics are childish, immature, and incredibly funny. Dialogue exchanges are priceless, and the number of potential quotable lines is too high to count.
The thin plot exists purely to set up gags between the two stars. Those gags never become old, whether sexual, perverse, violent, or absurd. Step Brothers is low brow comedy at its best, offering some of the best gags since Superbad. The jokes-per-minute ratio is incredibly high, and rarely do any of the misfire. Immature as it may be, there’s no denying its timing and the appeal of its two lead comedians who know how to make it all work.
Step Brothers used its R-rating in the theater to full effect. The Unrated cut presented here adds a little more raunch, though with only mild effects. Nothing takes away from the comedy, and the additional eight or so minutes are still worth seeing.
If you’ve enjoyed the prior work of Judd Apatow (producer here) it’s hard to see this not falling into the same category. It’s just as offensive as some of his other work, with a goofier, more ridiculous side than something like the above mentioned Superbad. It may not have the heart, but it has the laughs.
Step Brothers follows the usual over contrasted, over saturated look of numerous modern films. Faces come off as pasty orange, carrying little detail at times. On the other hand (as inconsistent as it may be) there are times, especially during close-ups, when this movie looks superb. Detail is clear, down to individual hairs. Distance shots hold together despite the overbearing color tones, and the black levels are calibrated well. There were no noticeable moments of artifacting for this AVC encode.
Given the rather pedestrian sound design, the TrueHD mix is bland. There’s little ambiance (although the finale does offer some nice acoustics), and also little opportunity for it. Dialogue is always well mixed, even when whispering. It’s serviceable in what it needs to do and not much else.
The amount of deleted scenes, extended scenes, and alternate takes requires a second disc to be included in the package. There’s close to two hours of this stuff, including job interviews, gag reels, extended therapy sessions, and the full music video for “Boats ‘n Hoes.” It’s exhaustive, yet nearly all of it could have been in the film to replace what’s there and it would still be just as funny.
For those not looking to extend their viewing experience, there’s a crowded commentary with Ferrell, Reily, director Adam McKay, composer Jon Brion, and NBA player Baron Davis, the latter of which has no real reason to be here. Featurettes include a standard making-of that runs 22 minutes, one centering around the music (just over 18 minutes), and two mockumentary features. L’Amour En Caravane “discovers” a love affair between Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins off-camera. The other, the rather dry and weird Charlene Moves In focuses on an unexpected guest on set.