Film Review: Step Brothers

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Will Ferrell’s place as one of Hollywood’s favourite comedians is, these days, pretty much secure.

He may well have made a fair few duds – Bewitched and Kicking and Screaming (both 2005) spring to mind – but he’s also the man responsible for one of the funniest movies of recent years, 2004’s Anchorman.

He has been so prolifically hard-working that he’s cropped up in everything from the first two Austin Powers movies to a Woody Allen film, the animated kids’ movie Curious George to the film version of the stage version of The Producers.

Thanks to his “Frat Pack” credentials he’s also had cameos in the likes of Zoolander, Wedding Crashers and Starsky & Hutch to boot – not to mention the entertaining short skits he’s been producing for the internet.

Yes, Ferrell’s comedy may be a bit hit and miss at times, but it’s usually worth watching for the good bits.

Just because 2006’s Talladega Nights had a few dud jokes and went a bit slow in places doesn’t mean that it wasn’t funny.

And just because last year’s Stranger Than Fiction (Ferrell’s attempt at a Truman Show, the film that showed Jim Carrey’s acting abilities for the first time) may not have been quite as clever as it thought it was, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth a watch.

Meanwhile, his co-star here, John C Reilly, is also highly regarded.

Oscar-nominated for his role as the jilted husband in 2002’s Chicago (and arguably the only person really deserving of an award in that massively over-praised film, which inexplicably beat The Pianist, Gangs of New York, The Hours and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to the Best Film Oscar that year), he’s built up a strong track record of powerful dramatic performances.

Be it the useless porn star of the excellent Boogie Nights to the depressed policeman of Magnolia, the corrupt Happy Jack of Gangs of New York to the flustered business manager of The Aviator, his distinctively chubby, crumpled face has made him the character actor of choice for some of the most respected directors currently working.

Reilly’s comedy outings, however, have not really attracted quite so much attention.

Last year’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was a passable genre parody, but largely only appeared decent thanks to the recent glut of truly dire parody films (the likes of Superhero Movie, Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, Date Movie, and the later films in the Scary Movie series) and Reilly’s ability to bring out the audience’s sympathy.

His turn as Ferrell’s sidekick in Talladega Nights stuck out more for the novelty value of seeing an Oscar-nominated character actor doing comedy than for any inherent amusement value.

So, the question is: has Reilly got what it takes to hold his own against Ferrell when they have joint top billing?

This tale of two spoiled rival rich-kids whose parents get married is where we’re going to find out – because the spoiled kids in question just happen to be in their 40s, and just happen to be Ferrell and Reilly.

At this point, many film fans will have lost interest. Who, after all, wants to see adults acting as children?

We get enough of that every day with the commute to work, the pettiness of office politics, queue-jumping at the supermarket and the like.

But with Ferrell and Reilly on board, there’s just a chance that this could be something special.

Will this be the film in which Reilly secures his comic reputation to go alongside his dramatic one?

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