Sunday, August 3, 2008

Stranded on Planet Bullshit

Step Brothers should work, it comes frustratingly close to working, but it doesn't. There's brief flashes of maniacal brilliance where you can see some of the Anchorman greatness (a one-two punch fantasy sequence involving a centaur and a lumber-jack comes to mind) but it just doesn't add up. The ingredients are there but the writing and directing and performances are all too indulgent. The tone is radically uneven. At times the parents (the always reliable Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen) are sensible, rational people and other times they get caught up in the inanity (and the insanity). The thing about Anchorman was that all the characters felt as though they belonged in that universe at all times. Even the "straighter" characters like Veronica Corningstone or Ed Harken fit into the sillier framework. But in Step Brothers there are moments where McKay and company strive for emotional honesty and the whole affair becomes like driving with the parking brake on. In trying to keep one foot in the real world and the other in the out-sized cartoonish world the film has a great deal of dissonance that translates to awkward stretches where jokes that should hit (the series of interviews, the playground fight) don't. The more I think about it the more frustrating the whole experience seems. I just don't want to waste my time writing about it. No matter how solid the delivery is (on that front Riley is the MVP with the line "You sound like a combination of Fergie and Jesus") or ridiculousness of the lines ("I am not a raper") the whole thing collapses in a heap. Sorry guys, better luck next time. I can't wait to ride the Pineapple Express soon enough and get this bad taste out of my mouth.

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