Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Adam McKay|
|Music by||Jon Brion|
|Edited by||Brent White|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$128.1 million|
Step Brothers is a 2008 American comedy film directed by Adam McKay, written by Will Ferrell and McKay from a story by Ferrell, McKay, and John C. Reilly and starring Ferrell and Reilly. It follows Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly), two men who are forced to live together as brothers. Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn also star.
The film was released on July 25, 2008, two years after Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Both films feature the same main actors, as well as the same writing and producing team.
Brennan Huff and Dale Doback are immature adults still living at home. Brennan lives with his divorced mother, Nancy, and Dale lives with his widowed father, Robert. Robert and Nancy meet, fall in love, and get married, forcing Brennan and Dale to live with each other as step brothers.
Brennan and Dale despise each other for interfering with their lifestyles. Dale warns Brennan not to touch his drum kit, which Brennan later does anyway and is confronted by Dale. The argument over the drum kit erupts into a violent brawl between them. They are grounded for a week following the incident and told they must find jobs within a month, or they will be evicted from the house.
When Brennan's younger and more successful brother Derek, a helicopter leasing agent, comes to visit with his family, he openly ridicules them for their lack of ambition, enticing Dale to punch him in the face. Brennan is awed that Dale stood up to Derek, while Derek's wife Alice (who also resents Derek) finds Dale's courage a turn-on, attempting to begin a sexual affair between the two. Brennan and Dale discover their shared interests and develop a brotherly friendship.
Robert schedules several job interviews for Brennan and Dale, in which they perform poorly. Robert and Nancy reveal their plans to retire and sail the world on Robert's boat and allow Derek to sell the house, and they demand that Brennan and Dale attend therapy and find other living arrangements.
Dale and Brennan decide to start an entertainment company, "Prestige Worldwide." They present their first music video, which they filmed on Robert's boat, at Derek's birthday party. The presentation backfires when the video shows the boat crashing. Robert is furious and refuses to make an investment. On Christmas Day, Robert announces he wants to divorce Nancy, causing Brennan and Dale to break down.
Blaming each other for the divorce, Brennan and Dale fight, then decide to go their separate ways. Brennan works for Derek's helicopter leasing firm and Dale works for a catering company. Weeks later, Brennan and Dale are fully mature adults and are doing well at their new jobs and living independently.
Wanting to reunite the family, Brennan volunteers to oversee the Catalina Wine Mixer for Derek's company and invites Robert and Nancy. They hire the catering company Dale works for. The party is a success, until the lead singer of Uptown Girl, a 1980s Billy Joel tribute band hired to perform at the event, loses his temper with the audience after he refused to play any pre-80s Billy Joel hits and is ejected. With the stage empty, Derek fires Brennan, blaming him for the debacle, and Robert ultimately encourages Brennan and Dale to be their eccentric child-at-heart selves again. Brennan and Dale take the stage and perform "Por Ti Volaré". Derek is so moved by the performance that he and Brennan make amends. Dale ends his relationship with Alice to her dismay.
Six months later, Robert and Nancy are back together living in their old house. Brennan and his therapist Denise are in a relationship, while Brennan and Dale have turned "Prestige Worldwide" into a successful entertainment company that runs karaoke events. Robert has his boat repaired and put on display in the backyard. In a mid-credits scene, Brennan and Dale stand up to a group of bullies from a middle school who abused Dale a year prior. In a post-credits scene, Brennan and Dale sleepwalk once more.
Step Brothers received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 55%, based on 182 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The relentless immaturity of the humor is not a total handicap for this film, which features the consistently well-matched talents of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly." At the website Metacritic, which utilizes a normalized rating system, the film has a score of 51 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film 1 1/2 out of 4 stars and stated, "When did comedies get so mean? Step Brothers has a premise that might have produced a good time at the movies, but when I left, I felt a little unclean".
The film was released for home video on December 2, 2008 in a single-disc rated edition, a single-disc unrated edition and a 2-disc unrated edition. The film generated sales of an estimated 3.87 million units in DVD and Blu-ray, totaling $63.7 million. For the home video release, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Adam McKay recorded a commentary track mostly in song, accompanied by Jon Brion; the track covers "the movie-making process [and] their characters' offscreen lives" in remarks that range "from the inspired to the irritatingly prolonged, but when Ferrell and Reilly really get into a good groove, they're actually funnier than the main feature".
McKay was also interviewed about the possible sequel. "We're kicking around the idea of Step Brothers 2," he said. "We feel like there's way more fat to be mined there. While it isn't quite the legend that Anchorman is, it has built kind of a nice following. We think it could be a pretty fun one." He added that Ferrell and Reilly's characters would be mature and have jobs. "One of them's married and has a kid. They're still kind of goofballs but they've taken three or four steps. Then we have an idea for something happens that knocks him back to square one, and one of the brothers, John C. Reilly sort of instigates it, like 'we can't take this anymore.' And things go really bad, their lives kind of fall apart. They have to pull it back together is sort of the basic structure." McKay has also said that ideas that were not used in the first film may be used in the sequel.
McKay spoke to Empire in February 2014 and appeared to rule out a sequel to Anchorman 2 or Step Brothers saying, "No, that's the last sequel we're gonna do. There's nothing more fun to me than new characters and a new world. And now we're releasing this alt version, we're totally satisfied. No Anchorman 3."
However, in an interview with Collider  posted on October 21, 2014, McKay indicated the door was still open for a Step Brothers sequel at some point, while making clear it wasn't a short term development priority, stating:
"We have a whole story [for Step Brothers 2], an outline that we're happy with. We were ready to go, and you know the story of [how] we got the call on Anchorman 2. We're not gonna do it now 'cause we just did a sequel, I don't wanna get into the sequel business too much. It was kind of a novelty to do one of them and it was certainly very interesting and I had never done anything like it. So I want to go make some original movies--or you know, The Big Short is an adaptation but do some different stuff. But who knows? 2-3 years, 3-4 years. I mean the funny thing with Step Brothers is if those guys are in their 50s it still works, so we could easily return to that, but for now no sequels."
But to make it more of a challenge, Ferrell and company sing most of the commentary, accompanied by Jon Brion, who vamps while the boys free-associate about the movie-making process, their characters' off-screen lives, and the exorbitant price they had to pay for a pair of fake testicles. Because it's all spontaneous, the commentary ranges from the inspired to the irritatingly prolonged, but when Ferrell and Reilly really get into a good groove, they're actually funnier than the main feature.