Step Brothers (film)

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Step Brothers
Promotional poster
Directed by Adam McKay
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Jon Brion
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by Brent White
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • July 25, 2008 (2008-07-25)
Running time
98 minutes
105 minutes (unrated version)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $65 million[1]
Box office $128.1 million[2]

Step Brothers is a 2008 American buddy slapstick comedy film starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. The screenplay was written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, from a story written by them with Reilly. It was produced by Jimmy Miller and Judd Apatow, and directed by McKay.

The film was released on July 25, 2008, two years after Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Both films share main actors, as well as the writing and producing team.


39-year-old Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and 40-year-old Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) are both unemployed, needy, and lazy men-children still living at home. They are very immature, having no intentions of taking responsibility for their lives. Brennan's parents divorced when he was 15 and he lives with his mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen); and Dale has been living with his father, Robert (Richard Jenkins), a physician and widower who meets and falls in love with Nancy. Eventually, Robert and Nancy are married, forcing Brennan and Dale to live with each other as step brothers.

Brennan and Dale each take a dislike towards the other, blaming each other for interfering with their lifestyles. Despite strong warnings from Dale not to touch his drum set, Brennan proceeds to play it during Dale's absence. When Dale notices a chip on the drumstick, he accuses Brennan of touching his drum set, which Brennan vehemently denies. The argument soon turns into a full-out brawl on the front lawn with their parents receiving urgent calls during work about the fight, which they hurry home to witness. As a result, they are punished by their parents, who warn them they must find jobs within a month or they will be forced out of the house.

When Brennan's successful younger brother Derek (Adam Scott), an arrogant and rude helicopter leasing agent, comes to visit with his oddly perfect family, he mocks their unsuccessful lives and entices Dale to punch him in the face, to which Dale unexpectedly complies. Brennan is awed that Dale was able to stand up to Derek since Derek embarrassed Brennan at a talent show years prior. Meanwhile, Derek's wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn), who is also resentful of Derek, finds Dale's courage a turn on, thus beginning a sexual affair between the two. Brennan and Dale also use the incident to discover their many shared interests and develop a strong friendship.

Robert schedules several job interviews for Brennan and Dale, who offend the interviewers with their child-like behavior and disrespectful attitudes. Later, Robert and Nancy reveal their plans to retire and sail the world on Robert's beloved boat and allow Derek to sell the house, and demand that Brennan and Dale attend therapy and find other living arrangements. At Derek's open house, the two scare away potential buyers by dressing up as a Nazi and a Klansman, and by Brennan pretending to be a dead corpse from the alleged asbestos fibers in the house.

Dale and Brennan decide to start an entertainment company, "Prestige Worldwide". They present their first music video "Boats 'N Hoes" at Derek's birthday party, which includes footage of them accidentally wrecking Robert's boat. Angered to his limits, Robert refuses to make any investment and spanks Brennan after a heated verbal exchange between the two. On Christmas Eve, Robert leaves to go to the Cheesecake Factory for a drink and, upon his return later that evening, proclaims to Nancy that it was the "happiest he had been in months". The following day, at Christmas dinner, he announces his intentions to divorce Nancy, causing Brennan and Dale to break down.

Upon discovering that each blames the other for the divorce, the boys fight again but decide to go their separate ways. Brennan starts working for Derek's helicopter leasing firm and Dale works for a catering company.

Brennan, wanting to reunite the broken family, takes the initiative to manage the Catalina Wine Mixer, a prestigious helicopter leasing event, for Derek's company and invites Robert and Nancy. They hire the catering company for which Dale works. The party is apparently a success, until the lead singer of "Uptown Girl", a (strictly) 1980's Billy Joel cover band, responds to heckles for earlier Billy Joel hits with explicit profanity, and is subsequently removed from the event. With the stage empty and Derek faulting Brennan for the singer's mishap, Robert ultimately encourages Brennan and Dale to be their eccentric child-at-heart selves again, sympathizing with their misery in their "adult" lives. Inspired by Robert's words, Brennan and Dale take to the stage and perform "Por ti Volare." Derek, amongst others, is so moved by the performance that he and Brennan make amends. Dale terminates his affair with Alice, very much to her dismay.

Six months later, Robert and Nancy are reunited and move back into their old home, while Brennan and Dale form a successful entertainment company that runs karaoke events.



Critical reception[edit]

Step Brothers received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 55%, based on 180 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."[3] 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".[4]

Home media release[edit]

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 an estimated 3.87 million units in DVD and Blu-ray, totaling $63.7 million.[5] 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."[6]

Rap album[edit]

McKay announced on Twitter that production of a Step Brothers rap album featuring Ferrell and Reilly had begun,[7] but later said that the rap album fell apart and will not be released.[8]

Possible sequel[edit]

Ferrell and Reilly have talked about a sequel. Reilly had the idea.[9][10]

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.[11][12]

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."[13]

However, in an interview with Collider [14] 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.

“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 50’s it still works, so we could easily return to that, but for now no sequels.”


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Step Brothers Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-03-29. 
  4. ^ "Step Brothers: Review". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  5. ^ "Step Brothers - DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  6. ^ "Now with extra farts! 25 1/2 gimmicky DVD commentary tracks". The A.V. Club. November 1, 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 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. 
  7. ^ McGlynn, Katla (2011-01-04). "Is There A 'Step Brothers' Rap Album In The Works?". Huffington Post. 
  8. ^ Jagernauth, Evin (2012-11-13). "Exclusive: Adam McKay Says 'Step Brothers' Rap Album Fell Apart, Sequel Still Possible But Won't Be Next". The Playlist. 
  9. ^ "Anchorman and Step Brothers sequels?". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  10. ^ ""Step Brothers": Reunited And It Feels So Good". The Urban Daily. 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  11. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (2011-06-17). "EXCLUSIVE: Major 'Hunger Games' Casting Confusion". Huffington Post. 
  12. ^ "Adam McKay Accepts the Death Of ‘Anchorman 2′ And Pitches ‘Step Brothers’ Sequel | News". Screen Junkies. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  13. ^ Germain Lussier (February 27, 2014). "‘Anchorman 3′ Won’t Happen Says Adam McKay". Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  14. ^

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