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Step Brothers (film)

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Step Brothers
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdam McKay
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited byBrent White
Music byJon Brion
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • July 25, 2008 (2008-07-25)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million[1]
Box office$128.1 million[1]

Step Brothers is a 2008 American comedy film directed by Adam McKay, produced by Jimmy Miller and Judd Apatow, and written by Will Ferrell and McKay from a story by Ferrell, McKay, and John C. Reilly. It follows Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly), two grown men who are forced to live together as brothers after their single parents, with whom they still live, marry each other. Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Adam Scott, and Kathryn Hahn also star.

The film was released by Sony Pictures Releasing on July 25, 2008, two years after Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Both films feature the same main actors, as well as the same producing and writing team. It grossed $128.1 million and received mixed reviews.


39-year-old Brennan Huff and 40-year-old Dale Doback are immature adults still living at home. Brennan lives with his divorced mother, Nancy, and Dale lives with his widowed father, Robert. Robert and Nancy meet, fall in love, and marry, forcing Brennan and Dale to live together as step brothers. Brennan and Dale initially despise each other, and after Brennan defies Dale and touches Dale's drum set (once with his testicles), a fight erupts between them. They are grounded with no television for a week and are ordered to find jobs within a month or be evicted.

When Brennan's arrogant classist younger brother Derek, a successful helicopter leasing agent, visits with his family, he openly ridicules Dale and Brennan, and Dale punches him in the face. Brennan is awed that Dale stood up to Derek, while Derek's discontented wife Alice finds Dale's courage attractive and begins a sexual affair with him. Brennan and Dale bond over their shared tastes and interests, particularly music. Robert, meanwhile, schedules several job interviews for them, but they perform poorly and then are attacked on their way home by school children. Robert and Nancy reveal that with Derek's help they plan to sell the house, retire and travel the world on Robert's sailboat. They also sign Brennan and Dale up for therapy and set up bank accounts for them to live off of until they find work. Brennan is attracted to his therapist, Denise, but the attraction is not mutual.

At Derek's birthday party, Dale and Brennan present a pitch video for their entertainment company, "Prestige Worldwide", that includes a music video, "Boats 'N Hoes", which they filmed on Robert's boat without his knowledge. The presentation backfires when the video shows the boat crashing, shattering Robert and Nancy's sailing dreams and straining their marriage. On Christmas, Robert and Nancy announce they are getting divorced, upsetting Brennan and Dale, who blame each other. Brennan and Dale go their separate ways, live independently and gradually become functioning adults.

Brennan gets a job at Derek's helicopter leasing firm and volunteers to oversee a prestigious event, the Catalina Wine Mixer. He hires the catering company that employs Dale and invites Robert and Nancy to attend. The party goes well until the lead singer of the hired Billy Joel cover band loses his temper with a heckler and is hustled away. Derek blames Brennan for the fiasco and fires him. Robert encourages Brennan and Dale to be their eccentric child-at-heart selves again and perform to save the party. The pair take the stage and Brennan sings "Por Ti Volaré" while Dale accompanies him on drums. Derek is so moved by Brennan's performance that he and Brennan make amends and Dale breaks off his relationship with Alice, to her dismay.

Six months later, Robert and Nancy are back together living in their old house, while Brennan and Dale have turned "Prestige Worldwide" into a successful entertainment company that owns various karaoke bars and clubs. Robert has turned his boat into a tree house for Brennan and Dale to play in, and Denise confesses her attraction for Brennan. During the ending credits, Dale and Brennan exact their revenge on the school children who previously beat them up.




Step Brothers was released in the United States on July 25, 2008.

Home media[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 of an estimated 3.87 million units in DVD and Blu-ray, totaling $63.7 million.[2] 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".[3] Step Brothers was released on 4K Blu-Ray on October 2, 2018.[4]


Box office[edit]

Step Brothers opened in 3,094 theaters and grossed $30.9 million.[1] It went on to gross $100,468,793 domestically and $27,638,849 internationally for a total of $128,107,642.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Step Brothers received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 55% based on 205 reviews, with an average rating of 5.60/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Step Brothers indulges in a cheerfully relentless immaturity that will quickly turn off viewers unamused by Ferrell and Reilly -- and delight those who find their antics hilarious."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 51 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B" on scale of A to F.[7]

Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 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".[8]

Ty Burr in the Boston Globe wrote, "'Step Brothers' is crudely funny, which means that sometimes it's crudely hilarious and more often it's just crude."[9] Variety critic John Anderson wrote, "the film is funny at times but lapses into the reflexive vulgarity that seems to be the default mechanism of the Apatow machinery."[10]

In the British Film Institute's 2012 Sight & Sound polls of the greatest movies ever made, The Snowtown Murders and Macbeth director Justin Kurzel named Step Brothers one of his 10 favorite films.[11]

Cultural and political reception[edit]

In the movie, Dale and Brennan make a video to pitch both Robert and Derek about investing in Prestige Worldwide, with a music video for a song titled "Boats 'N' Hoes". Since the release of the film, "Boats 'N' Hoes" has contributed to the success of the movie with over a million hits on YouTube and merchandise that references the song.[12]

A political action committee (PAC) known as the "Boats 'N' Hoes PAC" was registered by Shaun Nowacki with the Texas Ethics Commission in 2014. Nowacki's firm was hired by multiple Republicans in Texas including 48th Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick (who was running for Lieutenant Governor), and Donna Campbell (who was campaigning for State Senator). The purpose of the PAC was never shared and was criticized by Lisa Paul, who served as the Texas Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director. Paul said, "Texas Republicans say they want to reach out to women, to be more inclusive, but actions like this reinforce a pattern of disrespect... Their contempt towards women is simply unforgivable."[13]

The Catalina Wine Mixer event depicted in the film was not a real event that existed before or during the creation of the film. The event has since been created and hosted on Catalina Island on Descanso Beach.[14]


Cancelled rap album[edit]

McKay announced on Twitter in 2011 that production of a Step Brothers rap album featuring Ferrell and Reilly had begun,[15] but later said that the rap album fell apart and will not be released.[16]

Possible sequel[edit]

Over the years, Ferrell and Reilly have talked about a sequel. Reilly had the idea.[17][18] In 2008, McKay was interviewed about a possible sequel, and said:

We're kicking around the idea of Step Brothers 2. We feel like there's way more fat to be mined there. While it is not 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.[19][20]

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."[21]

In a 2014 interview with Collider, 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, stating:

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 50s it still works, so we could easily return to that, but for now no sequels.[22]

In February 2017, Ferrell said in an interview with Rolling Stone that there are currently no plans for a sequel to Step Brothers.[23]

In November 2020, Reilly said in an interview on Conan[24] of a sequel:

Like a lot of artists, all three of us felt like 'Unless we were really sure we could make a better version or improve on what it is, let's leave it alone.' Sequels are hard to pull off.


  1. ^ a b c d "Step Brothers (2008)". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ "Step Brothers - DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. 2010. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  3. ^ "Now with extra farts! 25 1/2 gimmicky DVD commentary tracks". The A.V. Club. November 1, 2010. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 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.
  4. ^ Step Brothers 4K Blu-ray Release Date October 2, 2018, retrieved May 18, 2021
  5. ^ "Step Brothers (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  6. ^ "Step Brothers". Metacritic. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "STEP BROTHERS (2008) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 23, 2008). "The feel-bad comedy of the year!". Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  9. ^ 'Step Brothers' is crude, rude - and funny. Burr, Ty. Boston Globe; 25 July 2008: D.8.
  10. ^ Step Brothers. Anderson, John. Variety; Jul 28-Aug 3, 2008: 24.
  11. ^ "Step Brothers (2008)". British Film Institute. August 20, 2012. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  12. ^ boats n hoes. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  13. ^ Bassett, Laura (April 17, 2014). "GOP Consulting Firm Staffer Registers 'Boats 'N Hoes PAC' (UPDATE)". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  14. ^ Goble, Andrew (September 9, 2015). "The Catalina Wine Mixer Is a Real Event Now". GQ.
  15. ^ McGlynn, Katla (January 4, 2011). "Is There A 'Step Brothers' Rap Album In The Works?". Huffington Post.
  16. ^ Jagernauth, Evin (November 13, 2012). "Exclusive: Adam McKay Says 'Step Brothers' Rap Album Fell Apart, Sequel Still Possible But Won't Be Next". The Playlist.
  17. ^ Brew, Simon (September 15, 2008). "Anchorman and Step Brothers sequels?". Den of Geek. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  18. ^ ""Step Brothers": Reunited And It Feels So Good". The Urban Daily. July 28, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  19. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (June 17, 2011). "'Step Brothers' Sequel: John C. Reilly Talks Potential Sequel, Talks 'Hunger Games' Mixup". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  20. ^ "Adam McKay Accepts the Death Of 'Anchorman 2' And Pitches 'Step Brothers' Sequel". Screen Junkies. March 21, 2011. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  21. ^ Germain Lussier (February 27, 2014). "'Anchorman 3′ Won't Happen Says Adam McKay". Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  22. ^ Chitwood, Adam (October 20, 2014). "Adam McKay Says UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT Isn't Happening; THE BIG SHORT Is Next But STEP BROTHERS 2 Could Happen in a Few Years". Collider.
  23. ^ Greene, Andy (February 21, 2017). "Will Ferrell on 'Step Brothers' Sequel: 'You Have to Resist the Temptation'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  24. ^ "From Largo Theatre John C. Reilly". Conan. Season 10. Episode 102. November 9, 2020. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020.

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