I’ve really no idea how Will Ferrell does it. Seriously, how does this guy write, produce and star in so many stupid movies? And yes, I mean “stupid.” Quality aside, there is no way anyone with half a brain would even consider calling Ferrell’s movies works of cerebral art. Funny, sure (in a low-brow, just-turned-14-years-old sense), but never will his films — which seem to come out just about monthly — be considered haute couture. Actually, come to think of it, maybe that’s exactly how he does it: none of his films are well plotted or serious enough to warrant anything more than a first draft, thus enabling him to “poop them out” with such regularity.
Ferrell’s latest comedic dump, Step Brothers, is probably one of the most far-fetched films he’s come up with, and when you’re talking about Will Ferrell, that’s really saying something. The premise of Step Brothers is that one 30-something live-at-home loser (“Brennan,” played by Ferrell) is suddenly thrust into the same house as another 30-something live-at-home loser (“Dale,” played by John Reilly) after their parents get married. Once they’re forced to live together, Ferrell and Reilly play off the oh-so-territorial stereotypes that you’d normally expect to see from two pre-pubescent boys. I suppose with Ferrell, that’s just about par for the course.
To Step Brothers’ credit, the film makes no bones about being serious, and in fact, the few moments where the writers actually try to create some semblance of a plot fail miserably. Instead, Step Brothers seems to let Ferrell and Reilly just run wild ad-lib style, almost as if the director challenged them to see who could come up with the most outlandish and childish scene or line possible. The result, while definitely capable of eliciting some laughs, is an incoherent mess of a film that is best watched drunk. Very, very drunk.
Oddly enough, Sony has released Step brothers as a two-disc Blu-ray Disc set with both a theatrical and extended version, plus a dirty laundry hamper’s worth of bonus features. The extended version runs about eight minutes longer than the theatrical version and includes a crude (no surprise there) sex scene set during a family dinner. Yep, that’s the sort of quality you get with this film. As a Blu-ray Disc film, Step Brothers has good 1080p picture detail, the colors are well saturated and there’s not really much pixelation. But seriously, when you’re waiting for the next “your mom” joke or fart, how much do you really care about the visual quality? Same thing with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio: it is more than capable and nicely included, but with the ass jokes coming primarily from the front speakers, it’s not exactly a showcase audio Disc.
With all the extras Sony packed onto the second Blu-ray Disc, it’s safe to say that if you enjoy Step Brothers, you’ll be stoked about the included two hours of outtakes, alternate scenes and montages — plus another hour of featurettes, skits, the red band trailer and a surprisingly smile-inducing commentary. Amazingly, the two hours of outtakes are just about as enjoyable as the feature film itself, probably because they’re just as ad-libbed as the main movie feels. Watching these outtakes make you realize how much footage must have been shot and how much improvisation they did. The full roster of bonus features is as follows:
Audio Commentary: Director Adam McKay, John Reilly, Will Farrell and NBA star Baron Davis (what?) provide a full-length audio commentary. In what is a first for me, the track includes musical accompaniment from the score composer Jon Brion. Not only does Brion play along with the participants, but about two-thirds of the commentary is done as a musical. Seriously.
Deleted Scenes (8:55, HD): Eight deleted scenes with an option to play all. The audio is very poor in a few scenes.
Alternate/Extended Scenes (37:20, HD): 15 alternate versions of the scenes from the movie with an option to play all.
Line O-Rama (5:55, HD): A montage of memorable lines from the film and the outtakes.
Gag Reel (4:15, HD): A humorous collection of scenes where the actors crack up trying to say their lines. I am guessing this was probably not an uncommon occurrence during the making of the movie.
Job Interviews (28:59, HD): Ten scenes filmed for when the brothers are forced to get jobs with an option to play all. Some hilarious cameos from Ed Helms and Craig Robinson of NBC’s The Office are included.
Therapy (13:30, HD): Eight scenes filmed for when the boys go into therapy with an option to play all.
Prestige Worldwide Full Presentation (4:51, HD): The full scene where the Dale and Brennan pitch the idea for their new multi-national entertainment company.
Dale vs Brennan (6:52, HD): A collection of scenes where the brothers face off against each other. Most of these are alternate takes not included in the movie.
Music of Step Brothers (18:16, HD): A featurette on Jon Brion’s work composing the score. This is very well produced and has segments with him playing in a band and conducting.
Making of Step Brothers (22:03, HD): A featurette of behind the scenes information with input from the director and all main stars. It is not overly detailed but gives just the right amount of attention to what you care to know for this type of film.
Charlyne Moves In (7:19, HD): Probably the weakest extra, this skit revolves around “Charlyne,” a friend of producer Judd Apatow who lives on the movie set, acting like it’s her home. She interacts with the actors during shooting not realizing they are making a movie.
L’Amour En Caravane (12:02, HD): A skit where Richard Jenkins gets a crush on Mary Steenburgen during filming. This is very funny and actually cleverer than anything done in the film. Ted Danson (Mary’s real life husband) and Larry David make appearances.
Boats ‘N Hos Video (1:52, HD): The crude but embarrassingly enjoyable video that the brothers created as the first project for their multi-national entertainment corporation. It is shown in the same home video quality (though encoded in HD) as during the film.
Boats ‘N Hos Music Video Editor: A tool allowing you to “edit” the Boats ‘N Hos video from the movie. You basically have the option to rearrange parts of the video and save to your player’s drive. There is an option to upload your new creation to Sony’s BD-Live portal (requires profile 2.0/BD-Live compliant player). At the time of this writing, there were not any videos uploaded. I am not sure how much sustained entertainment value there is from this feature, but it is fun to play with for a bit.
Red Band Trailer (2:26, HD): The hilarious red band trailer for the movie.
Step Brothers is basically a bunch of stupid moments strung together with no pretense of being artistic, much less coherent. I could argue it is an acquired taste but that would be giving it too much credit. If you are a fan of Will Farrell’s brand of coarse humor and liked his collaboration with John Reilly in Talladega Nights, you get a full serving of that and probably will enjoy the movie. But seriously, you’ve got to be a BIG fan of Ferrell to bother with this one, particularly with the massive number of Blu-ray bonus features.
Buy Step Brothers on Blu-ray at Amazon.com.
- Score: 6.8