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Step Brothers 

Dir, Adam McKay; feat. Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen

Written by and starring Hollywood’s favorite heterosexual life partners, Ferrell and Reilly, Step Brothers asks that you open wide and swallow the following pill: Single mother (Steenburgen) meets single father (Richard Jenkins), both of whom have 40-year-old sons who still live at home. The sons don’t get along at first, but they soon realize that they’re the same soul trapped in separate but equally tubby and hairy vessels, and become fast friends. But when Mommy and Daddy decide to retire and sail around the world, the party’s over, and the kids are forced out of the nest to try to make their own way in the world. There are enough break-ups and make-ups to shame the most melodramatic chick flick, and the only real fun happens when Ferrell’s brother Derek (Adam Scott) emerges as the perfect yuppie asshole.

Even avoiding Semi-Talla-Anchor-Blades-of-Dewey comparisons, the jokes are old. But underneath the recycling is a sadder story of several very talented comic giants, including Judd Apatow, wasting their credentials on tired gags. Toward the flick’s end you may find yourself asking, “Is it possible that there’s a theme here, a message embedded in the tea-bagging jokes, about a culture so obsessed with traditional definitions of success that we rush into playing grown-up at the expense of our youthful innocence and unchained humanity?” The answer, of course, is no. It’s just a movie about grown men forced to ingest sun-bleached dog turds, 40-year-old virgins three years after it’s fashionable to be one, and attractive women mysteriously sweating goofy heroes with no sex appeal. But hey, at least you knew from the first five seconds of the trailer what you were getting yourself into, so if you’re seeing it anyway, you’ll probably enjoy it.

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September 9, 2020

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