Review: 'Step Brothers'

Comedy about a couple of grown men acting like stunted 14-year-olds oversteps the limit of loserliness.

John C. Reilly (left) and Will Ferrell test the limits of loserliness in the comedy 'Step Brothers.'

Before their latest comedy "Step Brothers," Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly last teamed up for "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which I was somewhat alone in rating less than a laugh riot. Both Ferrell and Reilly were playing winners – at least in their own minds – and that stunted the comedy. These guys are best when they are playing losers.

Still, there are limits to loserliness, and "Step Brothers" oversteps them. Ferrell plays Brennan Huff, a mostly out-of-work layabout who lives with his overly indulgent single mom (Mary Steenburgen). Reilly, equally loafy, lives with his exasperated doctor father (Richard Jenkins). When the parents marry, the boys – er, men – are required to live together in the same house. In the same room. Can bunk beds be very far behind?

The idea of two grown men acting like stunted 14-year-olds is amusing enough, and Ferrell has a few classic bug-eyed loony moments, such as when he reluctantly sings a song and gasps at the angelic sounds coming out of his mouth. Reilly is a good foil for Ferrell, but too many of their scenes together have the effect of improv night at the comedy club. Director Adam McKay is a veteran of the Judd Apatow school of R-rated gross-out gooniness, but this latest installment in the canon is decidedly underpowered. Grade: C+ (Rated R for crude and sexual content, and pervasive language.)

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