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PCR #435 (Vol. 9, No. 30) This edition is for the week of July 21--27, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Step Brothers"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilley and Richard Jenkins
Directed by: Adam McKay
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 37 mins

It’s a story as old as time. A man and a woman meet, fall in love, get married and, with their respective children, start a new family. It worked for the Brady family And it usually works for 99% of the families. The other 1% is highlighted in “Step Brothers.”

Dr. Robert Doback (Jenkins) shares his house with his 40-year-old son, Dale (Reilley). At a symposium he meets the lovely Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), who confesses that her 39-year-old son Brennan (Ferrell) has also refused to leave the nest. When the two decide to get married, the two “kids” are forced to share a room, the first step in a series of misadventures that go a long way from maintaining family harmony.

“Step Brothers” is best discussed as if it were a two act play. Act one introduces us to the characters as they begin to negotiate each other. While some of the bits aren’t delivered as cleanly as they should be, Ferrell and Reilley, so successful on screen together two summers ago in “Talladega Nights,” prove to be a natural comedy team, even when they’re working with some below average commentary. The boys are brilliant when acting out their frustrations. It’s obvious that both men have studied an average 6 or 7-year-old, mimicking their tantrums like masters. Act II finds the parents oblivious to the infighting and the boys continue to argue and become more violent in their disagreements. Enter into the picture Brennan’s kid brother Derick (Adam Scott). A success where his older brother is a failure, Derek manages to get on Robert’s good side, giving him the son he always dreamt of. But not to worry about the squabbling. Once the boys learn they share a favorite dinosaur and a man-crush on John Stamos, things begin to work out. Which leads to the classic “happy ever after.” Right?

Kudos here to both leads, who manage to channel their inner child to their adult personalities. And cheers also to screen veterans Jenkins and Steenburgen, who more than hold their own against their younger co-stars. If the film suffers at all, it’s in the screenplay, which was co-written by the current king of adult comedy, Judd Apatow. Where his previous contributions have given us some genuinely hilarious stuff, here some of the set ups have a sense of being forced or are the product of bad improv. Of course, if it’s an Apatow script, be prepared for a quick glance at the male anatomy in one of the film’s funniest scenes. Too bad the rest of the film isn’t as funny, though it’s not without its moments. Or maybe we’ve just been spoiled.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give “Step Brothers”

This week's movie review of "Step Brothers" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.