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Judd Apatow, the mastermind behind such hits as 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, and Superbad brings us yet another raunch-com that follows in the same irreverent footsteps of its siblings. But while Step Brothers holds its own with regards to its place on the raunch-O-meter, it falls a little short in many of the other aspects that made the previous Apatow films so attractive. The one common trait of an Apatow film, and something that has in some distorted way, managed to justify the irreverence, is the presence of a big heart and genuine human feelings. We're always made to feel as if laughing at such things is acceptable if there's a good outcome, or if the characters ultimately redeem themselves... and it's no different with Step Brothers. But here the laughs come more from shock tactics than from cunning, and eventually shock is no longer going to work. But until then, let your hair down, accept the fact that testicle sight gags can be funny, and laugh your ass off.

Step BrothersThe plot to Step Brothers is really more like a one-joke premise, but regardless, the filmmakers director Adam McKay who co-writes with Will Ferrell surprisingly milk the most from that premise with a non-stop barrage of loose skits, funny sight gags and gross-out indulgence. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who previously worked together on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, are grown up losers, Brennan and Dale respectively, two 40-year-old men still living at home with their parents. Brennan lives with his mother (Mary Steeenburgen), Dale with his father (Richard Jenkins). When mom and dad get married, the four move into a 2-bedroom house forcing Dale and Brennan to share a bedroom together. At first they don't get along, but eventually become bff. The comedy comes from the slow destruction of the parents as they're finally forced to come to grips with the 40-year-old monsters they've created by years of mollycoddling. It's definitely not highbrow humor. In fact, it really shouldn't be considered on a level any higher than Junior High at best, but then again, we don't expect ponderous meaning or dovetailed subjectivity from an Apatow film, now do we?

The casting is the key that makes the whole thing work. Brennan and Dale are basically petulant 9-year-old brats living in grown men's bodies. And while in the hands of less "abled" actors, such brash silliness would come off as a forced chemistry experiment. But here the two pick up where they left off in Talladega Nights, somehow managing to make us laugh out loud at a couple of immature lugs who do nothing more than sit on the couch, scratch themselves and concoct ways of sabotaging a forthcoming interview. Oh, and there's that aforementioned testicular sighting that should have been gross-out appalling, but instead is one of the film's funnier moments.

Rounding out the cast are Brennan's brother Derek (Adam Scott) who, while more successful than Brennan, is ironically just as immature, and Derek's repressed wife (Kathryn Hahn), who, at first knowledge that Dale punched out her husband, falls tailfin over teakettle in lust for Dale. Her aggressive sexuality seems way out of place however almost surreal as do a few other scenes depicting Dale and Brennan ransacking the house as they sleepwalk in tandem.

Step Brothers is a stupid, overtly absurd and raunchy comedy that hits more often than it misses. Expecting subtle, and crafty humor is looking in the wrong place however. Although the tone is mostly purposefully mean, our love and adoration of the characters allow us to see the shenanigans as funny rather than malevolent. That's what we've come to expect from an Apatow production, and as long as the shock and awe tactics continue to work, enjoy!

Component Grades
3 Stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars


DVD Details:

Widescreen Edition Unrated DVD

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Korean, Thai

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; English: Dolby True HD; French-Canadian: Dolby True HD; Portuguese: Dolby True HD; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; music video; line-o-rama. Includes both theatrical & extended film versions.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Adam McKay, special guest NBA star Baron Davis and scored by Jon Brion
* Featurettes
o The making of Step Brothers
o Line-o-rama
* Deleted Scenes -
o Extended & alternate scenes
o Gag reel
* Music video: "Boast 'N Hoes" - full music video

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging