When it comes to Adam McKay, you know you’re probably going to get something good. After all, the man has a 2/2 batting average up to Step Brothers, and for that film he re-united his leads from Talladega Nights: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.
The premise is simple. Ferrell plays Brennan Huff, a 39 –year-old manchild who lives with his mother (Mary Steenburgen), Reilly plays Dale Doback, who’s 40 and lives with his dad (Richard Jenkins). When their parents meet it’s love at first sight, but that also mean this the two men are going to have to get used to each other, and at first they want to kill the other. But the two bond when Dale learns to hate Brennan’s “perfect” brother Derek (Adam Scott), and when Dale punches Derek, he becomes friends with both Brennan and Derek’s wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn), who then promises to Dale that she’ll masturbate that evening thinking of him.
Well, the family isn’t happy with their stay-at-home ways, and so the two are forced to go job hunting, and when that fails the two dream up a plan to be entrepreneurs without any sense of what that means. When their initial plans go haywire, it sends friction into their parents’ marriage, and such leads to both men being forced to leave the nest and find regular jobs. But then there’s the Catalina Wine Mixer that Brennan has to organize, and it might just save the family.
Okay, that’s the bare bones plot, and the premise is sketch-thin, but with Ferrell and Reilly finding and never deviating from their characters, there’s so much to recommend. Basically, they go from small highs to highs, and with their cherubic features and perfect performances as manchildren, you really get the sense they’ve channeled their inner pre-adolescents.
The film plays much better on repeat viewings, it has some narrative hiccups (the boys have to become friends and then hate each other toward the beginning of the third act), so that repetition of their animus grows slightly wearing, but the ringers (like Seth Rogen, Rob Riggle and Scott and Hahn) keep things floating along. There’s nothing as gloriously insane as the Anchorman fight in Anchorman, but the ending is up there in absurdist pleasures. And that’s the thing, McKay is able to channel some really out there stuff in this film and those moments of just complete and utter surrealism make the film more than the sum of its parts.
But if anyone gets the gold star for this movie it’s Kathryn Hahn’s pitch perfect sexual sociopath. She’s weirdly sexy and goes toe to toe with Reilly in upping the ante. Her career could be legendary.
Sony presents the film in both the theatrical cut (98 min.) and an extended cut (106 min.) that adds some bits here and there, and the film is presented in Dolby Digital TrueHD and in widescreen (2.35:1) in a presentation that highlights how good a comedy can look. But the standout, and possibly the greatest supplement ever recorder is the musical commentary track with McKay, Ferrell, Reilly, and guest starring Clippers point guard Baron Davis, all scored by Jon Brion. The fuckers sing for a good chunk of the running time, and it’s breathtaking in its absurdity. I can’t believe they did it, and that I heard it, and that it’s funny and awesome, and easily the greatest supplement in the history of the format.
There’s a Boats ‘N Hoes Music Video Editor, where you can make your own video for the song, and then six deleted scenes (9 min.), which is followed by fifteen extended or alternate scenes (38 min.) And that’s just the first disc. On disc two there’s Line-O-Rama (6 min.), the gag reel (4 min.) and ten Job Interviews (29 min.), which gives Craig Robinson a stunning moment or two. Then there’s seven Therapy scenes (14 min.), and then “Prestige Worldwide Full Presentation” (5 min.), and then the “Boats ‘N Hoes Music Video.” (2 min.), Rounding out the deleted footage is “Dale Vs. Brennan” (7 min.), so there’s a collected total of one hour and fifty four minutes of deleted and/or extended footage.
Then there’s the Making of (22 min.) which is standard but funny, and then “The Music of Step Brothers” (18 min.) which gives Jon Brion his due. “Charlyne Moves In” (7 min.) gives Knocked Up’s Charlyne Yi a joke role in the film and on the set, while “L’Amour En Caravane” (12 min.) hints at some on set sexual hi-jinks. Rounding out the set is the Red band Trailer. Great nuggets are to be found in the deleted footage, and it’s all pretty much worth watching.