Don’t be fooled by expectations emanating from the family-friendly trailers revolving around a collapsing bunk-bed. This is NOT a movie for kids! It’s an R-rated, crude, comedic rumination on contemporary parenting and sibling rivalry.
Among the entitled ‘boomerang generation,’ it’s become accepted practice for grown offspring to return to their homes (a.k.a. womb) and become unemployed couch-potatoes after life deals them a few sobering blows. At least that’s the case with Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly). But when Brennan’s mother Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) meets and marries Dale’s dad Robert (Richard Jenkins), the two paunchy, immature, middle-aged oafs are forced to share a bedroom as slapstick, sadistic chaos reigns.
“Today I saw my own son use a bicycle as a weapon,” marvels ever-patient Nancy.
Then there’s Brennan’s insufferably successful younger brother, Derek (Adam Scott), who brags that he knows “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and does a wicked Tom Cruise imitation, and his repressed wife, Alice (Kathryn Hahn), who adroitly uses a bathroom urinal.
Written by Ferrell, Reilly and director Adam McKay, it’s reminiscent of the dim-witted male camaraderie in “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” only this time, tiresome, annoying slackers are behaving like naughty boys–for no apparent reason–and each joke is routinely beaten into the ground. And with Judd Apatow co-producing, you know you can count on male nudity; this time, it’s Brennan’s testicles (hopefully, prosthetic ones) rubbed on a drum.
As a brief whiff of praise, it is fascinating to marvel at the versatility of Richard Jenkins who was so impressive in an entirely different type of role in “The Visitor.” On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Step Brothers” is a grossly vulgar, frustrating 4. No kin do.