Step Brothers

Rated 3.0

A comedy about two farcically arrested adolescents, both at age 40, may seem a little unnecessary at this point in the parallel careers of the Will Ferrell franchise and the Judd Apatow comedy factory. But Step Brothers, written by Ferrell and director Adam McKay and starring Ferrell and John C. Reilly in the title roles, gets something like a maximum of comic value out its pungently rambunctious premises. Ferrell and Reilly once again show surprising gifts as a comedy team, with both revealing variously daring combinations of comic intuition and emotional irony. The satirical undertow is not as corrosive or incisive as it was in Talledega Nights, which remains the high-water mark for Ferrell-Reilly-McKay, but the psycho-comic crossfire provided by the title characters’ newlywed parents (Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen, both quite good)—and by twisted sibling rivalry in the form of a snarky younger brother (Adam Scott) and his desperately dissatisfied wife (Kathryn Hahn)—helps ensure that this is the sort of dumb comedy that is smarter than it looks at first.