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This week:
Step Brothers

Filthy says:
"It's fucking funny... til it's not!"

I always wanted a step-brother. Mostly because it would have meant that my parents had gotten a divorce. Not that I thought my parents were a bad match or anything. Actually, I thought they were perfect for each other. I wanted them to split so I could divide and conquer. I'd tell my dad while spending the weekend at his tiny basement apartment that Mom let me look through her porn, so he should too. I'd convince my mom that Dad really thought I wasn't drinking enough. And I'd trick them both into giving me go-karts out of the Sears catalog for Christmas, so I could smash them into each other.

I outgrew those fantasies around age 18. That's when they tossed me out and I realized I didn't want them divorce because, if they did, I'd lose storage space for all my shit. The movie Step Brothers is about older pseudo-siblings than I was. Will Ferrell and john C. Reilly are both about 40. Why they are still at home isn't completely clear, but let's just say they're fuckups treading in a sea of retarded adolescence.

I have a soft spot for fuckups. We're the lifeblood of society. We're the sponges that absorb all the extra output of our economy, all the unsold girlie magazines, all the hot dogs that have been on the rollers at 7-11 for days. Without us, most people would have nothing to compare their own accomplishments to. Plus, if all of us fuckups disappeared, others who are currently productive and useful members of society would slack off and fill the void. There, but for the grace of me, go you.

When Step Brothers is funny, it's very very funny. When it is bad, it is fucking dreadful. The split is about 2/3 funny and 1/3 nearly unwatchable, with the last half hour being the dogshit on the shoe of moviegoing. When Ferrell and Reilly's single parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins) decide to marry, the two still-at-home adult kids are forced to move into the same bedroom, which hasn't been remodeled since Reilly was about seven.

For both Reilly and Ferrell, their lives have never advanced beyond the stage of looking at Hustler Magazines in a treehouse. I know, I know, that sounds like a pretty sweet life. It's not, though. At some point, every man must grow up, move out on his own, and find the independence that allows him to look at Hustler's any time he wants, wherever he wants, can order pay-per-view and take dumps in neighbor's planters without being told on.

Reilly still keeps a drum set in the spare bedroom. Ferrell was recently canned from the Petco. Their dream for financial freedom revolves around sketchy dreams, like the idea to make an entertainment company called Prestige Worldwide that features Ferrell singing, Reilly drumming, and both of them rapping a song titled "Boats and Whores". It's the kind of thing kids, and the Harelip, concoct: that somehow some set of skills known only to them--and not hard work and education--are their key to riches and wealth. Neither has ever had a serious relationship, a real job, or anyone to kick them in the ass when they needed it. Reilly appears to be a virgin.

Of course, they hate each other at first. The first half hour of Step Brothers is mostly a montage of them throwing tantrums and threatening to beat the shit out of each other. In the second half hour, the two finally discover they are much more alike than different, and become friends. This second third of the movie is almost as funny as the first. The brothers interview for jobs--losing one chance due to a seriously long and toxic fart--and build a shifty bunk bed out of two regular bedframes. The final third of the movie is where it just stops, drops its pants and takes a dump on the screen.

After destroying Jenkin's boat during the making of the "Boats and Hos" video, the brother put a strain on their parents and force a divorce. All of the sudden, the movie stops being funny and does a sloppy-ass job of trying to resolve all its plot points so that everyone is happy. Reilly and Ferrell fight and decide they hate each other, move out on their own, take real jobs, grow up, are unhappy and have to rely on each other to succeed and rediscover their retarded adolescence.

The way it happens is pure pig slop, with plot points as lame and unfunny as when a late-80s Billy Joel cover band gets into a fight because someone asks them to play an early 80s song. After so much good comedy, the movie devolves to gags that belabored and unfunny. It's clear that about one tenth of the effort put into the gags is put into making the ending satisfying. I'm not saying it needs to be believable. I'm saying it should be funny. It's not. It's just sad to watch how lazy director Adam McKay and his writers are in getting to the finish line.

The way this thing petered out reminded me of the time I decided to run the Harvest Festival 2K Fun Run, and to win it. I'm not a runner by nature, so I compensated by consuming 14 Monster Energy drinks that morning. And for one-and-a-half kilometers, I was way ahead. Granted, I signed up for the 70-and-over age group, but I was still kicking those old people's asses. But with the finish line almost within reach, I discovered I was out of gas. Not out of puke, mind you, because I threw up once for every can of that sticky shit I drank. I had what it took to make it most of the way, but the ending disappointed not only me, but all the spectators who got spewed on. It was then that I realized I should never start things I can't finish well. So, I don't start things anymore.

Step Brothers could be a satire of extended adolescence, how kids stay with their parents longer, and how some fucking weirdos collect action figures and remain virgins well into mid-life. It could be, and occasionally it hints that maybe somebody involved in making the movie considered this. It could be about the different ways people raise children too, and how it screws them up. Steenburgen molllycoddles the kids while Jenkins tries to give them tough love. It does neither of these. And that's pretty damn okay with me when the jokes are funny. But when the movie changes its mind and makes us slog through that shitty half hour of phony feel good bullshit, well fuck 'em.

Three Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Mark S. Allen of CBS/CW

The X Files is "Chilling. Engaging. You'll be feeling this film long after you leave the theater."

The X Files is "Thrilling. Smart. Sexy."

You know a movie is desperate when it quotes an established whore twice in a single ad.

Filthy's Reading
Junot Diaz - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Listening to
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive


All the King's Men