Step Brothers (2008)

This was a really funny film. As I was watching it, it felt very much like Napoleon Dynamite, in the sense that Ferrell & Reilly were portraying characters from what the viewer might consider their own past or from their own former perception of reality as a kid.   They said and did things just like elementary or middle school aged kids, though they were 39 & 40 years old.  It was funny to see them acting out those typical scenes of asking their parents if they could make bunkbeds or open one present on Christmas Eve.  I seem to recall opening up a non-toy present on Christmas Eve when I was a kid, and being just as disappointed (i.e. pitching a major fit, and probably crying!)  because it wasn’t the “hulk hands” sort of a gift that could be played with.  Funny and relatable. 

I suppose these filmmakers were going for invoking a real sense of nostalgia with this film. To be able to act those things out, as 40-year olds, is quite a hearkening back to the old days many people had growing up.  This film was a real Peter Pan moment, I think.  It shows a refusal to truly grow up, the struggle against loss of innocence associated with growing up, and a return to that childish innocence that we were all stripped of when we were expected to shed our childlike ways and don more appropriate adult realties.

It is a thoughtful anachronism, these two characters and their prolonged childhood.  They are out of place in time in many respects, but by the end of the film, their paternal authority figure admits to his own childhood dreams of growing up to be a T-rex.  He says all he ever wanted to be was a T-rex and he would walk around the back yard with his arms tiny, acting like a T-rex.  This reminds me of one of our nephews who, when he was 3’ish, told me he wanted to be a Kitty when he grew up!  And that’s probably one of the sweetest and most innocent things I’ve ever heard in my life.  One day, much later on (he was 4-5’ish), after I had asked him if he still wanted to be a Kitty, he looked at me funny and said “No.” He now wanted to be something more appropriate, like a baseball player.  He didn’t seem to remember wanting to be a Kitty.  But I remembered. I still remember.

I still want to be a Kitty.

I think, as an adult, it is sometimes very desirable to want to retreat back to a time of innocence and exploration.  A time when you could be a kid for real. Now we can only “play” kids because those times have long passed for us.  But we still remember what it was like and we find a lot of humor in it. Obviously.  Maybe that’s why, by the time we’re in our 30s (for some of us, earlier or later), we’re ready for kids of our own:  because we want to re-experience the innocence since we have been coerced into being adults or adult-like for most of our lives.

We watched the racy, extended version of this film and it had some pretty crazy-funny parts.  I loved that in the midst of their anachronistic innocence, they were still very pure: pure of body and mind. The sex scenes with Dale (Reilly) and Alice were, I think, typical of teenage hormones. Alice was repressed, in all senses of the word, and she was merely acting out, like a child, in reaction to her overly-controlling husband.  …calling Dr. Freud!!!!    And Dale didn’t realize what was going on at all the first time they did it in the bathroom. And even by the end, after it had happened a few times with Alice, he calls it “making sex” with her.  There’s something to be said about not tainting your reality with what I think today is an overabundant burden on the idea of sex (knowing about it, wanting it, having it). And the fact that the family didn’t realize, or care, that they were having sex right in front of them (because Dale was helping her with a back spasm….;), shows how little parents tell their kids about sex, or are observant enough to pick up on the flashing red signs that they’re already doing it, literally, under their noses.

I like stupid, potty humor so this film kept me rolling.

3 thoughts on “Step Brothers (2008)

  1. I actually skipped this movie because I loathe Will Ferrell, and after reading your review, I think I’m glad I gave it a miss. I’m really concerned about films where adults behave like children and other adults think its funny, knowing all the while that if they had an actual child that behaved like that, they’d either beat it until it couldn’t sit or send it away to military school. I guess it is what it is, but, for me, when you put Will Ferrell in a film, you have to be prepared for a joke that was only marginally funny in the first place to be dragged out until any humor is completely wrung out of it.

    Remember when John C. Reilley was a serious actor, and got steady character work in respectable parts (like in Chicago)? I guess the money helps him look at himself in the mirror, but the loss of his integrity has to make it all feel just a little cheap and hollow.

  2. Aww…snap! So are you saying you’re concerned about me because I think it’s funny?! You should be…you should be…. LOL.

    It is painful to watch their childish behavior and the way their parents don’t really discipline them. But I suppose therein lies the lesson because THAT’S what your kids will turn out like if you slack off in the Discipline Department!

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