Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Step Brothers

I don’t know whether it is a good thing or not that I went to see the new release of Step Brothers. While I have a great admiration of one of the stars, John C. Reilly, I have honestly had mixed feelings about costar, and one of the writers and executive producers Will Ferrell. Some of the advance trailers looked like this would be a decent flick pairing these two from Talladega Nights back together so I decided to see it.

Step Brothers is a contemporary tale about family with a contemporary twist. It appears that Brennan Huff, (Ferrell) and Dale Doback (Reilly) are two 40-year-old men who live at home with their respective single parents. Reilly’s mother played by wonderful actress Mary Steenburgen and Dr. Robert Doback, Dale’s father played by character actor Richard Jenkins does a wonderful job in the supporting role. These two come together in an overnight fling at a local conference and decide to get married, go after their dreams, and along the way, continue to spoil their children and finally realize their two boys are hindering them from finding true love and going after their dreams. In the process we have a journey that has not only the parents but the boys being forced to grow up, plus recognize there is a time to become an adult.

I wasn’t expecting great acting, but I enjoyed the acting. Reilly is as usual superb; Mary Steenburgen is as fun to watch on screen as ever. She is a beautiful woman who continues to age gracefully while maintaining her beauty. She performs and does what is necessary to convince the audience that her character is real, and she does a great job at conveying the emotions of that character. Then there is Richard Jenkins who has some meat in his character. We often see character actors given roles with little to develop. Jenkins does a great job here and his role could be considered a co lead as this film provides more of an ensemble cast than a character driven cast. Then there is Will Ferrell, as mentioned earlier, Ferrell has gotten a mixed bag of reviews from at least this reviewer. That said, he does an amazingly good job as he convinces me that he can act. While a comedic role Ferrell does a great job showing a variety of emotions along with some fun comedic timing moments during the film.

Director Adam McKay does a great job at developing the story of Step Brothers. We see the family going through struggles, while at the same time growing. In the growth we see sequences where the characters grow a part. While this could have been done in standard comedic shtick we see some real acting, for me, a pleasant surprise. We have a story that drives several points home, while using a lot of comedy and shtick along the way, we also have serious subject matter addressed.

Step Brothers addresses serious issues related to family, dreams, and reconciliation. There are themes of forgiveness that are also addressed. While the characters we see on screen are far from perfect, they are great reminders of our own need to look at these important areas of life.

One of the things I appreciated about Step Brothers, is that while many want “traditional” families we live in a world where “traditional” has many different faces. Blended families have a tremendous impact on all involved, especially children. While we see older children here, the point is still driven home. We also see areas of forgiveness addressed and virtually every primary character has to come to a place of not only offering forgiveness, but being forgiven. Of these themes, they are not the theme I appreciated most.

The aspect of going after ones dreams is an important area of life many forget about, or let go by the wayside as they get older. This theme addressed with most every character on screen is driven home through the conclusion of the film. The idea of age not being a factor in one making sure they go after their dreams is something addressed in Step Brothers and is an idea many can take to heart.

While I have mentioned some of the things I liked about this film, I have to say, Step Brothers isn’t for everyone. There is a lot of crude humor that goes over the top. That said, it is still a fun movie and for those who can deal with it, they will find out it is more than a teenager comedy flick. There is some meat in this film if one looks for it. While not a T-bone steak, it has a good supply of protein and will satisfy many taste buds. While looking for some of the good themes addressed it may also bring a smile, or a few laughs along the way.

On a scale of 1 – 10, minus points for the three brothers who had some serious lessons in life to learn, I’ll give an enjoyable 7

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