I have a bit of a mixed love and “oh God why am I even watching this” relationship with Will Ferrell’s comedies. I like him as a performer, but his comedies almost always leave a lot to be desired. The writing usually proves to have been entirely a secondary concern and the comedy itself tends to be very low brow and frankly, a bit cringe worthy how bad it can get. Case in point, Step Brothers. This isn’t a movie. It’s an idea for a Saturday Night Live sketch that for whatever reason was green lighted to a full feature. And not a particularly good one.
Building an entire movie around a one-note sketch where grown up men act like kids just leaves you with a wobbly house of cards. One wrong move and it all falls apart, which it does here. Hard, I may add. While the comedy does at times manage to hit the right notes to be relatively funny, it’s got way too many misses for you to be able to ignore how bad the movie really is. Seeing two grown up men in their forties acting like seven year old brats is not a very compelling premise to begin with but when you don’t even have a strong script to go along with it, it’s a recipe for failure. Reilly and Farrell thankfully do have just enough charisma to get some laughs out of the set up, but not nearly enough. The movie just takes far too long time to start to truly be funny, and even then it’s primarily hits and misses when it comes to the actual jokes. For example, two adult men getting all giddy about the idea of building a bunk bed for themselves at the middle of the night and going to their parent’s bedroom to ask permission? That is just absurd enough to be funny. Especially when they just decide to stack up one bed atop of another and then enforce it by just nailing some boards to the side, which obviously doesn’t help the lower bed hold any weight at all. But Reilly and Ferrell both by chance coincidentally sleepwalking around the house, turning the kitchen upside down during the night? It’s just the two of them throwing things in the air while mumbling and keeping their eyes closed. That’s not even remotely amusing to watch.
The final nail on the coffin for the movie is the ending which is terrible in a number of ways. It’s anti-climactic, excruciatingly dull and so obvious to anybody that a blind man could see it coming a mile away. Above else, it fails to hold any type of significant emotional punch, which kills any chance of the ending being even slightly satisfying. So, the boys have been forced to move out, grow up and get proper jobs. Oh but wait, facing grim reality is a pretty downer ending for a comedy. So instead of any kind of a compromise where they discover that they could retain some of their childish attitude while being grown up adults, out of the blue we are told instead that it’s actually OK to be a middle aged manchild if you have a dream. Or this case, a dinosaur and a beautiful singing voice. A voice that magically makes their parents get back together, turn the entire wine mixer from almost being a disaster to be a massive hit, and slightly enamor the shrink that for some reason is made to be a real romantic interest for Ferrell. For any of that to feel satisfying, you’d have to first care about them enough to wish that the movie ends with a proper Hollywood ending. But you don’t. And there is no amount of Will Ferrell singing Por ti volare that will change that.