2008 in Review: ‘Step Brothers’

The week after “The Dark Knight” released, I had hit a roadblock. I had already seen the film 3 times in theaters and figured another viewing might be excessive. Yet my friends and I were in the mood for a film. So, as a young teenage boy, there was only one obvious choice. “Step Brothers” had just reached theaters, and little did I know I would be watching one of the funniest Will Ferrell movies to date.

When “Step Brothers” debuted, Ferrell was at a career high. He had just come off of “Talladega Nights” and “Stranger Than Fiction,” films for which he received considerable acclaim. “Anchorman” had become a high school favorite of mine as a teenager, and might have been the most quotable movie I’d seen to that point. John C. Reilly was another matter. I was mostly unaware of his work, except for his roles in “Chicago” and “Talladega Nights.” I was unaware of his entire career in P.T. Anderson films, or his prestige work with Martin Scorsese. I was also unaware of the talented Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott, or Richard Jenkins. Perhaps that’s why I loved this film so much. “Step Brothers” was my introduction to some of my favorite actors in all of Hollywood.

When I fell in love with “Step Brothers”

While the opening montage is incredibly enjoyable, the scene that stands out to me is the first dinner together. We have gotten a quick backstory on Dale (Reilly) and Brennan’s (Ferrell) past. The two actors are fun loving, forty-year-olds who still with their parents. That’s a funny premise that allowed for some ridiculous one-liners. What really made the film special was the back and forth between the characters. Immediately, Reilly and Ferrell recapture their chemistry. Both are simply hilarious and as antagonists, they are even funnier. Slinging insults back and forth results in some of the most quotable lines in the film. The fight doesn’t end at the dinner but continues as they attempt to sleep in the same room. The whole sequence is hilarious and remains some of their best comedic work to date.

Most Rewatchable Scene

This is an extremely tough call, considering the movie is basically rewatchable from start to finish. However, the easiest scene to single out is the Catalina Wine Mixer. When the event begins, we’re treated to the characters coming back into contact after drifting apart for the previous few weeks. Brennan has set up the “F***ing Catlina Wine Mixer” to perfection, and everything is going well. Yet suddenly, things go sideways because the Billy Joel cover band (“Only 80’s Doo Wop Joel”) gets into a fight with the guests. After a nonsense monologue about finding your dinosaur from Richard Jenkins (who looks as surprised as anyone the story somehow comes together), we’re treated to Brennan and Dale on stage for a mashup of “Con te partiro” with “Boats and Hoes.” Girl Talk would be jealous.

The entire sequence is so weird, so absurd, that it stands out apart from the film. It’s supposed to deliver the emotion hammer to the film, and instead it’s just funny and dumb. Yet sometimes these moments are the best moments of films. Especially when Rob Riggle just breaks down crying. It’s all gold.

A close second has to be “Sweet Child of Mine.” I didn’t include it only because Adam Scott is a dirtbag in this film. But my god is it hilarious.

Best Scene 

When Brennan and Dale become best friends. It’s the most Gif-able moment of the internet.

Is there any doubt? The two become absolutely tied at the hip from this moment on, which leads to many of the films best moments going forward. We also get the most quotable line from the film “There’s so much room for activities” when Dale and Brennan build bunk beds. It allows us to move from an antagonistic relationship into a positive one. The sequence helps us transition the film into something stronger, and adds stakes when their relationship frays with their parents later in the film. It’s undeniably fun, and even as they run around the house slicing fruit and doing karate, we finally get Ferrell and Reilly the way we love to see them.

Why Should You Watch It Again

Is there ever a time to not watch “Step Brothers?” It has aged extremely well over the past few years. It seems like the internet reminded everyone how many funny one-off jokes exist in the film. Who would guess that this film would remain one of the most rewatchable films of the decade, especially given that Ferrell’s catalog to date? Yet there’s something so easy to relate to in the film, whether you’ve had issues with friends or family, that makes it feel essential. “Step Brothers” is weird and strange, but it comes out the other side better for it. When you have talent like Ferrell and Reilly commit to the bit this hard, it could only ever end well.

What do you think of “Step Brothers?” Where does it rank among your favorite Will Ferrell movies? Let us know in the comments below! 

Check out our other retrospectives on 2008 here

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