Anyone with more than a passing interest in Judd Apatow's career will note how there's a curious call-back to one of Apatow's earlier works in this most recent of his productions, with the credits for Step Brothers in the exact same scrawled, stretched-out font as his comedy Freaks and Geeks. Freaks and Geeks, though, featured teens who often spoke and acted like adults; Step Brothers features adults who constantly speak and act like children.

The credit-font's evocation of an earlier Apatow work is an omen for the rest of Step Brothers, in fact, with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly recycling and amplifying their rivalry from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (also directed by Step Brothers helmer Adam McKay) but without that film's plot structure, surreal wit or inspired mockery (and celebration) of NASCAR culture; instead, Step Brothers seems constructed -- or, rather, contrived -- solely to create a circumstance where Ferrell and Reilly can act like idiot man-children and riff to their great amusement. That, however, is not the same thing as riffing to the amusement of the audience. ...

categories Reviews, Cinematical