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cinema: Keeping it in family; step brothers (15) ***.

WILL Ferrell co-wrote and produced this movie as well as starring in it. And it feels as if he's got his mates together to have a good laugh, with no clear idea about plot or how the film will end.

That means it's very hit and miss. While some parts are laugh-out-loud funny, the last half-hour is very hard going as we limp towards an ill-thought-out conclusion.

Ferrell teams up with John C. Reilly to play Brennan Huff and Dale Doback.

They are both 40-ish, unemployed and still living at home with their parents - Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) and Robert (Richard Jenkins) respectively.

When Nancy and Robert meet, they have a whirlwind romance and marriage, much to the annoyance of their sons.

The new step-brothers are forced to share a bedroom but, despite having so much in common - not least the fact they act like 12-year-olds - they hate each other on sight and try to kill each other.

After lots of unentertaining bickering, they Vnally bond over their mutual dislike of Brennan's apparently-perfect brother Derek (Adam Scott, putting in the movie's best performance).

This is when the Vlm begins to get funny, as the step-brothers realise how much they have in common, like their love of Randy Jackson and velociprators. Dale encourages Brennan to start singing again and tells him he has "the voice of an angel, a cross between Fergie and Jesus!".

It's a shame there are rather too many gross moments, but what works even less well is the sudden personality change the step-brothers undergo when forced to leave home and Vnd jobs.

After a pretty good Vrst half, with glimpses of the calibre of Anchorman, the Vlm just disintegrates.

It says it all when one of the biggest laughs comes before the opening credits, with a real quote from George W. Bush: "Families is where our nation Vnds hope, where wings take dream."

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by Roz Laws
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2008
Words:320
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