Friday, July 25, 2008

Stepping in it with Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play 40-year-olds who refuse to grow up in "Step Brothers," a foul-mouthed comedy in which a couple of laughs may offer compensation for the movie's inability to get much beyond a single joke. No "Talledga Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Step Brothers" revolves around two slothful men whose lives are sent into turmoil. Ferrell's Brennan and Reilly's Dale are forced to share a room when Brennan's mom (Mary Steenburgen) marries Reilly's dad (Richard Jenkins). The new stepbrothers fight, become friends and then battle some more in a movie that has one truly inspired moment, Ferrell singing Andrea Bocelli's "Por Ti Volaré." It's almost worth the price of admission, providing you have a high tolerance for the constant stream of dumb-and-dumber jokes, forced off-color humor and a distasteful display that results from watching two grown men acting like perpetual teen-agers. Oh well, "Step Brothers" could be the only summer movie to build a joke around an exposed testicle. And you thought movie culture was crumbling.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson revisit the characters of Dana Scully and Fox Moulder in a sometimes involving but generally unnecessary big-screen reprise, which arrives six years after the popular and widely acclaimed TV series went bye-bye. There are many holes in a story about a psychic pedophile priest (Billy Connolly) who's trying to get right with God and the world. When he's not praying, Father Joe devotes his time to helping the FBI locate a kidnap victim. Scully, now working as a full-time physician at Our Lady of Sorrows hospital, tires to save a kid with a rare and supposedly incurable disease; she also helps persuade Moulder to heed an FBI request to abandon his isolation and help with the investigation. The movie eventually unveils a bizarre plot involving organ transplants and whacko biological experiments. "I Want to Believe" seems interested in exploring intelligent themes (the relationship between science and faith, for example) but tin-eared dialogue and too many abrupt leaps in the plot stand in the way. I'd say you probably need to be an "X Files" fan to get much out of this; if you're not, "I Want to Believe" may look like one more hopelessly muddled thriller.

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