The usual Ferrell schtick was present and once more he worked well with sidekick John C. Reilly, but what was unexpected was the amount of below-the-belt vulgarity. Sure, most of the movie was Ferrell-arious, but some of the off-color humor was obviously more for shock value than script effect.
While penning the screenplay, Adam McKay and Ferrell said they decided to make it "very filthy with a hard ‘R’ rating." Unquestionably, they succeeded.
This was quite a contrast to McKay and Ferrell’s previous two efforts, "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." I wasn’t born yesterday and am not above hearing a four-letter word — I work at a newspaper, for crying out loud — but even I winced a few times from what I heard during "Step Brother."
The concept of the film and the way Ferrell and Reilly portrayed the 40-ish step brothers who behaved much of the film as if they were 12 worked only because Will Ferrell was Will Ferrell. Reilly and anyone else would have fallen flat on their face. I often wonder of Reilly realizes how much of his meal ticket Ferrell actually is?
Here’s hoping Ferrell returns to the formula that worked in "Old School" and "Anchorman." I’ll give him a mulligan for "Step Brother," which was good, but might have been great if he had shown just a little more judgment when it came to the (amount of) four-letter words and crude references.
The best Will Ferrell films to date:
1. OLD SCHOOL (2003), Ferrell character: Frank "The Tank" Ricard. Comment: You’re my boy, Blue.
2. ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004), Ferrell character: Ron Burgundy. Comment: Stay classy, San Diego.
3. SEMI-PRO (2008), Ferrell character: Jackie Moon. Comment: I’ll never forget the fight with the bear and Ferrell’s initial comment when he decided it was not such a good idea.
4. STEP BROTHERS (2008), Ferrell character: Brennan Huff. Comment: There were parts that will make you cry you will be laughing so hard. I just can’t tell you what they are.
5. TALLADEGA NIGHTS (2006), Ferrell character: Ricky Bobby. Comment: There were parts that were hilarious, just not enough of them.