A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

July 25, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Step Brothers

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: Two spoiled guys become competitive stepbrothers after their single parents get hitched.

Review: I really, really wanted to love Step Brothers. Due in part to a string of exhausting Will Ferrell "sports comedies", which ranged from pretty good (Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights) to pretty bad (Semi-Pro, Kicking and Screaming), Ferrell's street cred has taken a major hit.

Then along comes the red band trailer for the R-rated Step Brothers, and hope is revived. Whispers of a comeback begin. An unshaven Bret Favre puts a glass up to the door to listen. Low income children vandalize fire hydrants so that they may prance though the gushing water in celebratory glee. Alas, instead of loving Step Brothers like a biological brother, I ended up only loving it like, well...a step brother.

I really feel no need to expand on the IMDB synopsis, even though it's only one line. This is the kind of movie where the plot exists solely to set up the next gag and most of the best stuff is in the trailer. Another film about arrested development and men acting like boys. Poop, fart, shit, dick. Although, unlike a movie like Knocked Up, this tale of suspended adolescence has no sense of reality to ground it or conflict to move the plot forward. It's just one crude gag after another. Not that I have a problem with absurdist, raunchy humor when done right.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly moments of gut busting laughter. When Dale (Reilly) compliments Brennan (Ferrell) by telling him that his singing voice is "a combination of Fergie and Jesus"; well that's right in my wheelhouse. Brennan watching Rock of Love? Swish! Chewbacca masks and home-made rap videos? There's some good stuff here for sure. Just watching Reilly and Ferrell play off of each other (you get the feeling that 75% of the stuff they used was ad libbed) can be a treat.

But soon the law of diminishing returns sets in. A well placed f-bomb can be comic gold, but when you're 50 minutes in and you're averaging one 'fuck you' a minute, the jokes begin to lose steam quickly.

This film is like recent Pearl Jam studio albums. The first single is always great, which leads you to believe that they've finally returned to form and crafted another masterpiece. Then you buy the album and there's like 3 or 4 good songs and the rest is forgettable filler, much as you hate to admit it*. But dammit if I don't keep giving both of them another chance.

*Except for Binaural. That album is criminally underrated.

Thunder Matt Rating: 3 Bunk Beds Out of 5

Lightning Round:

The Wackness: Ben Kingsley's over-the-top performance as a pot-smoking shrink almost makes up for the fact that his foil, a slack-jawed, fleshy, teenage pot-dealer, is one of the most annoying and lifeless characters ever to grace celluloid. Lots of references to this new guy 'Biggie Smalls' help establish that this movie takes place way back in 1994. Also, lots of smoking in this film. Where are those 'Truth' ads when you need em? Wait for this one to debut on FX in like 3 months and go buy the soundtrack instead. 2.5 Stars Out of 5.

American Teen: The big hit of Sundance, this documentary follows around 5 Indiana high schoolers (jock, nerd, cheerleader, alt girl, and the heartthrob) for their senior year. It's like one of those MTV True Life shows, but done really well and with a hip, indie soundtrack. I didn't want to like this, but by the end you become genuinely interested in these people's lives and chances are you'll have a couple of acne filled flashbacks. The whole thing is ripe with cliches, but then you remember, high school really was one big cliche. 3.5 Stars Out of 5.