Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Will Ferrell returned to where he belonged in Step Brothers. That is to say not as, for example, a sex-addicted curling champ from Liechtenstein with a testicle that hasn’t descended and an appetite for Funyuns.
In this 2008 comedy, Ferrell defensively (and offensively) rebounded from a run of dismal sports movies (Semi-Pro, Kicking and Screaming, the obnoxiously overlong Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby).
With as much meaning as a silly scatological movie could muster, Step Brothers mocked measurements of male maturity in a world where many “kids” have moved back in with their parents.
Ferrell and John C. Reilly are Brennan and Dale, two lazy grown men forced to move in with each other after their single parents (Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen) meet and marry. Their developments aren’t just arrested. They’re serving life sentences in Chino.
The duo’s pouting-rant details — such as perfectly clinched near-tears faces — are perfect. Meanwhile, the costumes and production design make the boys’ bedroom and wardrobes a perfect petri dish of retro pop culture.
If Talladega flipped the bird to NASCAR, Brothers subtly does so to the anyone’s-a-star mentality of “American Idol,” albeit with the finger in its pocket. And when Brennan and Dale are forced to find work and fix a fast-fracturing family, the film finds its strangely moving footing.
That’s because it didn’t easily cast aside family members with sour feelings toward them as vile villains, much as the underrated Stuart Saves His Family. In all, Step Brothers was straightforwardly hilarious.