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Step Brothers 

The insanity of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly trying to act normal gives this comedy its edge.

Only the insanity of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly attempting to conduct themselves as everyday people gives Step Brothers its edge. It's the funniest Ferrell comedy since Anchorman, but its man-child vs parental authority conflict is really a less-substantial Freddy Got Fingered (Tom Green's bizarre 2001 film, where, among other things, he drinks from a cow), watered down for critics' approval.

As Brennan and Dale, Ferrell and Reilly enter stepbrotherhood when their single parents decide to marry. The bickering siblings are taken beyond the delayed adolescence of most slob comedies: They're 40-year-old 12-year-olds. Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins encompass permissive and strict parental types. It's possible to imagine how Step Brothers would have been a 1980s classic with Steve Martin and Chevy Chase as leads. But as is the problem with most Ferrell comedies, the characters aren't human enough to make it count.

The only real joke in Step Brothers is that Brennan and Dale (and most everyone else) are mentally stunted. This misses the subversion of a comedy about wanting to fend off the responsibility of becoming an adult. Nothing in Step Brothersruns much deeper than the silliness. There comes a point where it's no longer about anything.

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Vol 26, No 34
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