Step Brothers

Foul-mouthed Ferrell comedy isn't very funny. No kids.
  • Review Date: July 23, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film attempts to convey some messages about the importance of family and being who you are, but they're definitely secondary to all of the crude jokes. Two characters dress in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan uniforms to scare prospective home buyers away from a property. A supporting character commits adultery. A rap song notes that when out of gas, one should "call the A-rabs."

Positive role models

Dale and Brennan are completely the opposite of what anyone would refer to as role models. They are vulgar, foolish, inactive, and unmotivated-- and that is before they meet each other. Together they terrorize their parents, the neighborhood, and the job market. While there is a half-hearted message about being who you are this is drowned by the film's ridiculous antics. In short, Dale and Brennan are hilarious to watch, but awful to emulate.


Wrestling, scuffling, and tussling; a character knocks another character out; characters are hurled down stairs; a character strikes another in the head with a shovel; two adults fight a playground full of younger children. Children bully grown-up characters into licking dog droppings. Characters watch an action-packed movie.


Underwear-clad making out; kissing; upright, clothed comedic sex in a bathroom; implied masturbation; pornography is glimpsed and referenced; a character drapes his testicles (visible on-screen) on another character's property; constant sexual references.


Constant, crude, and rude language including (but not limited to) "f--k," "s--t," "balls," "nutsack," "horses--t," "motherf---er," "p---y," "wiener," "chest pubes," "ball 'fro," "big joint," "man-gina," "sucks ass," "bang," "retard," "whore," "gay," "butthole," "dogs--t," "vagina," "douche," "penis," "butt buddy," "fart," "hos," and "faggot."


Extensive mention and onscreen presence of lots of brands and TV shows and movies, including Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Heinz ketchup, Converse sneakers, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Belkin movers, Pet Smart, Outback Steak House, Hustler Magazine, The Cheesecake Factory, Hulk Hands toys, Sony Vaio, Doritos, Good Housekeeping, The Outsiders, Scarface, Good Will Hunting, Rock of Love, The Apprentice, Star Wars, Guitar Hero, "Shark Week," American Idol, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters refer to "smoking pot" and "smoking a jay" characters drink hard alcohol to excess; characters drink wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a far raunchier comedy than the last collaboration between stars Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and director Adam McKay, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and much more explicit in how it stoops for laughs. It's loaded with crude, rude, sexual, and obscene language and situations, including visible male genitalia and glimpses of porn and a vocabulary that ranges from "p---y" to "f--k" and everywhere in between. There's also lots of product placement, and the film's half-hearted messages and morals -- about family, being who you are, and accepting people -- are drowned out by its loud, boisterous vulgarity.

What's the story?

Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) and Janet Huff (Mary Steenburgen) meet at a medical conference, and it's love -- and lust -- at first sight. Sharing personal facts as they tear each other's clothes off, they're dumbstruck when they both realize they have adult sons still living at home. After a swift marriage, Janet and her son, Brennan (Will Ferrell), move in with Robert and his son, Dale (John C. Reilly). The "boys" initially despise each other but soon become partners in crime; unfortunately, the strain of living with two unemployed boy-men drives Robert and Janet apart. Forced to move out as their shared home is sold, Brennan and Dale have to grow up, fast, and are soon plotting to get Mom and Dad back together.

Is it any good?


There are an incredible number of things wrong with STEP BROTHERS, not the least of which is the fact that the filmmakers seem incredibly content to let Reilly and Ferrell's antics stand in for any plot logic or sense. Within five minutes of the film's start, you're wondering why exactly Robert and Janet have put up with their crazed slacker sons for so long. But if they hadn't, you wouldn't have a plot for your movie. Of course, you still don't have much of one, but director Adam McKay seems remarkably content to let Ferrell and Reilly scream, shout, and flail their way through every scene, assuming that the audience will find their antics hilarious. Produced by Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up), Step Brothers has the raunchy rawness of his other comedies, but none of the sweetness or structure.

Overall, Step Brothers feels more like a marketing plan than a movie, more like a poster than a plot. Ferrell repeats his overly familiar wailing buffoon character, and Reilly matches him (shouted) note for (shouted) note. It's as if everyone involved was so sure that what they were doing was comedy gold that they didn't bother making an effort to create fully drawn characters or an actual plot; instead, we get two stars in thinly drawn parts that are entirely too similar to what we've seen them do many times before, drifting lazily from scene to scene with no real direction. What might have looked like a winning plan on paper -- more hilarity from the stars, folks behind hits like Anchorman and Talladega Nights! -- ends up playing out as a shabby, self-indulgent mess.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Will Ferrell's appeal. What makes something a "Will Ferrell comedy"?

  • What age group do you think movies like this one are aimed at?

  • Families

  • can also discuss the movie's essential question: When should children

  • leave home?

  • When does parental protection become more a burden than a

  • shield?

  • What challenges do real blended families face? What fuels

  • sibling rivalry in real life? Also, is it ever worth sacrificing your

  • individuality and passion in order to get ahead?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 25, 2008
DVD release date:December 1, 2008
Cast:John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Will Ferrell
Director:Adam McKay
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:112 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:crude and sexual content, and pervasive language.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous November 5, 2014
age 17+

Mean slapstick comedy is not that funny but a few laughs. Iffy behavior

My rating:R for slapstick violence,language,sexual humor and nudity
Teen, 13 years old Written byKknowsbest February 20, 2011
age 15+

Worth Buying? Yes

This movie is definetely worth buying. Yes, the cursing is pretty intense, but nothing a kid over 12 hasn't heard in their life. I sugest you rent it, watch it before the childeren, then make the decision. There is one seen where the top of Will Ferrel's private can be seen from a close angle. That is the most sexual scene in the moviej, though. Great Movie
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written bydb1250 January 25, 2011
age 2+
this movie is funny as
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byam1408 August 18, 2010
age 14+


What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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