Step Brothers & Year Of The Dog

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Step Brothers: Year: 2008, Writer: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay & John C. Reilly (story) Will Ferrell & Adam McKay (screenplay), Director: Adam McKay, Budget: $65 million (estimated), Gross: $80 903 000 (as of August 10th, 2008)

Year_of_the_dog Year Of The Dog: Year: 2007, Writer & Director: Mike White, Budget: ?, Gross: $1 540 141

This week i wanted to talk about Step Brothers, but since it is far from a fbnf film i paired it with a film that connects to it in some way and does fall into the fbnf realm, Year Of The Dog.  that connection, in case you were wondering, is john c. reilly being that he is in both movies.  that being the case, that isn't what i want to discuss.  rather i found these two good examples to get a little deeper into something i have been talking about a lot lately on here (but more so on the podcast)... script formula.

these two films fit into a discussion of formula quite well in that one of them, Step Brothers, is a great example of a formula script and Year Of The Dog isn't.

normally the formula that Step Brothers follows is seen in romantic comedies and it goes something like this: two people meet, things happen, they fall for each other, things are good, one of them messes things up (usually the guy), they are apart, the one who messed up makes some grand gesture to fix things (often bringing back some story element that was made reference to early in the film), everything works out, cut to some amount of time in the future and things are all good and everything is wrapped up, end credits...

with some light variations you can see said formula in loads of films.  for example, off the top of my head: When Harry Met Sally, Knocked Up, Austin Powers, etc... even going back to Singin' In The Rain and of course now Step Brothers.

now, i am not saying this is always bad.  in fact i enjoyed Step Brothers and Austin Powers, Singin' In The Rain and When Harry Met Sally are three movies i love (knocked up was good as well). i think the formula is almost comforting for audiences.  writers/studios/film makers have seen it work and it creates a nice story arc while providing room for conflict and humor and a happy ending.  what more could you want?  well, how about something different...... which brings us to Year Of The Dog.

the film, the directorial debut from mike white (the guy who wrote School Of Rock, The Good Girl, was one of the writers on Nacho Libre and played jack black's roommate dating sarah silverman in School Of Rock) feels like a formula romantic comedy and for the first part you will surely think you see where it is going, but it doesn't go there.

Step Brothers is a funny movie.  i am a huge will ferrell fan.  he can make me laugh doing almost anything, and the ferrell/reilly pair are great together again.  the film is a little ruder and more vulgar then one might expect, in case you are sensitive to that sort of thing, which i am fucking certainly not. the movie starts off strong, the middle act is a bit flat, but it comes back with a funny third act and a good time at the theater.

Year Of The Dog isn't hysterically funny, and feels a little slow paced at points, but it is an enjoyable little film that goes against expectations and is worth your time.