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Step Brothers

Reuniting the ‘Talladega Nights’ team of director Adam McKay and stars Will Ferrell and John C Reilly, ‘Step Brothers’ takes a merciful step back from the tired sporting comedies that have recently become Ferrell’s bread and butter and lunges into more heartfelt and deranged comic territory.

When their respective parents decide to get married, overgrown stay-at-home sons Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) develop an immediate sibling rivalry. But as the family unit is threatened, enmity turns to armistice and, finally, to embarrassingly overaffectionate brotherly love.

Tightly scripted by Ferrell and McKay, the film lacks the improvisational spark that made ‘Talladega’ and ‘Anchorman’ so fresh. But it has energy to spare, a great line in bone-crunching slapstick and the easy charm of two comic leads at the peak of their game. An excellent supporting cast also pull their weight, notably Adam Scott as awesomely vile overachiever Derek and Kathryn Hahn as his desperate wife Alice, who walks away with the film’s most disturbed, brilliant scene.

Some awkward shifts into grossout territory– including Ferrell sporting a pair of very fake rubber testicles – don’t exactly raise the tone, and there are moments when the prospect of watching two grown men act like spiteful adolescents for 90 minutes seems a big ask. But Ferrell is no Robin Williams and, even with a last-act shift into ‘emotional’ territory, the film never becomes mawkish. Despite some obvious flaws, ‘Step Brothers’ remains a hugely enjoyable, well-constructed slice of lowbrow Saturday night entertainment, leaving Ferrell’s position as the reigning king of US comedy secure for a while longer.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday August 29 2008
Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Adam McKay
Screenwriter: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Cast: Seth Rogen
Andrea Savage
Adam Scott
John C Reilly
Rob Riggle
Mary Steenburgen
Richard Jenkins
Will Ferrell
Horatio Sanz
Kathryn Hahn