Step Brothers (Columbia Pictures, R)

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Ferrell and Reilly are brilliant together as two men who are have been emotionally and mentally stunted since about the fourth grade. They are loud, offensive, pathetic and absolutely wonderful to watch.

The first half of Step Brothers, which re-teams the Talladega Nights trio of Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and director Adam McKay, is a solid and hilarious movie that you know in the back of your head won’t be able to keep up the momentum. Roughly halfway through the movie, things start to fall apart. And even though the movie is still incredibly funny, it pretty much comes to a standstill.

Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) are two grown men who have never moved out of their parents’ houses. When Brennan’s mom, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), and Dale’s dad, Robert (Richard Jenkins), get married the two men become step brothers and are forced to share a room and a new life together. Like most stepsiblings, the two hate each other at first and do everything they can to destroy the other. Also like most children forced into a new family together, they eventually realize that they have a lot in common and find many similarities between them.

Ferrell and Reilly are brilliant together as two men who are have been emotionally and mentally stunted since about the fourth grade. They are loud, offensive, pathetic and absolutely wonderful to watch. Ferrell, again, manages to deliver absurd lines with the straightest of straight faces, giving Brennan a sense of ignorance and apathy. Reilly, however, steals the show as the more ambitious and determined of the two brothers. Like he did as Cal Naughton, Jr. in Talladega Nights, he plays Dale not for laughs but as a serious character, making him that much funnier.

The script, by Ferrell and McKay, has about 20 minutes of quality substance which is spread over a much longer period. I can’t help but think that the concept would work much better as a short film distributed online, with a tighter feel and less pressure to fill the requirement of a feature length movie.

There is no doubt you are watching two geniuses at work in Step Brothers and that you will be laughing so hard that some jokes will be missed. However, the plot takes some unnecessary turns and drags out the story for far too long. You won’t be disappointed by the movie, but you may be squirming in your seat by the end of it.| Matthew F. Newlin

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