In the spirit of Step Brothers, the latest comedy about the ever-hilarious adventures of the emotionally stunted American male, I irresponsibly finished this review a whole day later than I should have.
How did that feel, you ask? It felt awesome! Instead of working, I watched Face/Off while lying on the floor, then smashed a lemon meringue pie in my roommate's pillowcase. That part I did regret, because if you think about it you only get the chance to eat meringue two or three times a year, but the upside to being an idiot manchild is regret is like a shooting star: it fades before you know it's there.
Besides, just because a pie's stuffed in a pillowcase doesn't mean you have to let it go to waste. That's why God gave us two hands.
In the no-less-absurd world of Step Brothers, late middle-aged Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen's romance is a lightning strike: they meet at a medical conference and are married within seconds of screen time, making plans to retire and sail the world on Jenkins' boat.
Complicating these plans, however, is the fact they each have a live-at-home son. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly might be 39 and 40, but they act 13, and their tantrums about their new living arrangements and their hatred for each other begins to strain their parents' young marriage.
Jenkins' ultimatum: one month to get a job and get out on their own. Even when Ferrell and Reilly bond after Reilly punches out Ferrell's arrogant brother Adam Scott, they've got a long ways to go before they're ready to meet the world.
Step Brother's plot is more of a formality than what you'd call a gripping narrative. The real draw, no surprise, is Ferrell and Reilly, whose obscene, violent, absurdist behavior is also really, really funny. Delivered with total conviction, their adult-sized childishness draws laughs when lesser mortals would be falling into obnoxiousness.
What it doesn't have is much in the way of depth. I know, I know, complaining about shallowness in a comedy is like getting upset when your dog can't play a competitive game of checkers. (But damn it, Buster will learn. I paid $40 for that dog. Do you know how many games that would buy me with the Jadwin St. hookers? Three. Four, if I provide the board.)
Thing is, though, Step Brothers bears the Apatow Productions seal of approval, which has come to mean a) a waggling parade of dick jokes but also b) a strong and sincere emotional layer.
That's missing here. (The emotional stuff, not the dick jokes. Once more Hollywood has given the world what it demands: naked testicles rubbed on a drum set.) Ferrell and Reilly are caricatures, giving them all kinds of room to be shoutily hilarious and little space to make any connection as people.
Written by Ferrell and Adam McKay, who also directed, Step Brothers never reaches the same deliriously silly heights as their work on Anchorman and Talladega Nights. If you think chaotic violence and apoplectic swearing is funny — and if you don't, I don't want to know you — it's going to be some steady entertainment.
Still, when you know everyone involved is capable of more, it's hard not to feel a little let down.