Rated: R (Theatrical Version)
Not Rated (Extended Version)
Length: 98 minutes (Theatrical Version)
106 minutes (Extended Version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p
Languages: English, French, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, Thai Dolby
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean,
Two of the original songs in the raunchy, outrageous Judd Apatow-produced comedy Step Brothers are “Boats ‘n Hoes” and “Hairy Balls.” It also begins with a quote from George W. Bush. You have been forewarned.
When the closing credits started to roll, my first thought was that half of the people who watch this movie are going to find it to be hysterically funny. The other half will likely consider it to be sophomoric and repulsive. I have to admit that Step Brothers made me laugh hard and laugh often, but that may say more about me than about the film.
Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) and Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) have something in common – each has a middle-aged slacker of a son living at home. When Robert and Nancy get married, she and her son Brennan (Will Ferrell) move in with Robert and his son, Dale (John C. Reilly). The “boys” are each about 40 years old, but they display the emotional development of teenagers. Since graduating from college, the closest Dale has come to holding down a job is his position as the manager of a fantasy baseball team. Brennan was recently fired after some unpleasantness at his most recent job, a two-month stint with PetSmart.
Brennan and Dale resent the upheaval in their lives which the marriage has caused. Not only do they have to live in the same house, they have to share a bedroom. When their dislike of each other leads to a physical altercation, Robert puts his foot down and insists that Brennan and Dale have to get jobs. However, the relationship between the two changes when Brennan’s obnoxious, over-achieving younger brother Derek (Adam Scott) comes to visit with his forlorn wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn) and their two children. When Dale stands up to Derek, Brennan realizes that he and Dale actually can be friends. Alice is so impressed with Dale that she confides to him that when she gets home she will “pleasure myself” to the thought of Derek being punched in the face. Later in the film Alice and Dale get frisky in a restaurant restroom scene which defies description.
What follows is a series of very funny job interviews in which Dale and Brennan decide to apply as a team, to the considerable consternation of their interviewers (one of whom is played by Seth Rogen in a cameo appearance). Unable and not particularly interested in finding conventional employment, Dale and Brennan decide to launch their own entertainment company, Prestige Worldwide. They make a music video called “Boats ‘n Hoes,” which is as funny as it sounds. However, the making of the video also puts a strain on the marriage of Robert and Nancy and threatens to break up the household.
Step Brothers comes to a fairly predictable conclusion, but with comedy the destination is almost always less important than what happens along the way. When Dale and Brennan decide to convert their beds into a bunk bed, you know what is going to happen but it still generates laughs. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have a wonderful chemistry together, and I expect that this is not the last time that they will be paired together. Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen are excellent as the beleaguered parents. The supporting actors are very good. I was also impressed by 12-year-old Elizabeth Yozamp, who does a superb job in her film debut as Derek’s smart-mouthed daughter, Tiffany.
The alternate, unrated version of Step Brothers contains a lengthy extended Christmas dinner scene and a few other shorter extended scenes. The unrated version is not noticeably raunchier than the theatrical version.
This one is all about personal preference and taste.
The 2.40:1 1080p transfer looks terrific. The image is sharp and smooth. There is minimal grain and the overall impression is satisfyingly film-like. The primary colors and flesh tones are vivid and accurate, with no smearing or bleeding. Black levels are solid and shadow detail is very good. I did not observe any edge enhancement, haloing or digital artifacts. Sony has produced another great-looking Blu-ray disc.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is excellent. The soundtrack contains a lot of music, and there is excellent separation which creates an expansive soundstage. The surround channels are used effectively, with appropriate ambient sound even in the quieter scenes. The dialogue is always clear and intelligible.
This Blu-ray presentation is packed with extras. In fact, it includes a second disc which is entirely made up of supplemental materials.
There is a very funny musical commentary track with Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, director/co-writer Adam McKay, composer John Brion, and a guest appearance by the pro basketball player Baron Davis. Seriously, the first 12 ½ minutes of the commentary is sung to Brion’s original music and the participants periodically break into song as the commentary continues.
One special feature, which was previewed by Sony to HTF members who attended the Hollywood meet in October, is the “Boats ‘n Hoes” Music Video Editor. This is an interactive feature which allows the user to choose the footage which accompanies the music.
There are seemingly enough deleted scenes, extended scenes and alternate takes to make up another entire film.
As noted, the second disc contains a plethora of extras.
Included is a 22-minute “making of” featurette and an 18-minute featurette about the music which is used in the film.
“Line-o-Rama,” is a series of alternate funny lines which did not make it into the final cut of the film. There is also a gag reel of flubbed lines.
There are ten different job interview scenes, including ones with Ed Helms and Craig Robinson of “The Office” television series. The scenes with Helms and Robinson were cut.
Another extra is a series of alternate takes of scenes of Dale and Brennan going for psychiatric therapy. The scenes of Brennan with his therapist (Andrea Savage) are particularly amusing. Dale torments his therapist by telling stories about his life which are actually scenes from movies and television shows.
Also included is the full prospective investor presentation of Dale and Brennan's “Prestige Worldwide” venture, as well as the entire “Boats ‘n Hoes” music video.
Two faux-featurettes are comedy sketches. One, called “Charlyne Moves In,” purports to show what supposedly happened when producer Judd Apatow allowed a homeless girl to live on the set of Step Brothers. “L’Amour en Caravane” is an original sketch about what occurred when cast members Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn suspected that Mary Steenburgen was having an affair with Richard Jenkins.
Finally, there is a compilation of scenes showing Dale and Brennan trying to impress each other, and the film’s trailer. All in all, there are more than three hours of extras.
Both discs are secured in a standard Blu-ray keepcase.
The Final Analysis
Comedy (particularly raunchy comedy) is such a matter of personal taste that I hesitate to recommend Step Brothers without the strong caveat that it is not for all tastes. I was not surprised to learn that movie critics in general have split down the middle on this one. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone loved it; Roger Ebert wrote that it left him feeling “a little unclean.” It left me feeling exhausted from laughing so much, but judge it for yourself.
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: December 2, 2008