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.