Step Brothers, To Love or To Hate

Step Brothers
Directed by: Adam McKay

Step Brothers is a movie that people either love or hate. Some may view it as raunchy, loud, crass, and unbelievable. With characters so foolish, disgusting, lazy, and unlovable that we truly hate them. The sets are bland, costumes dull, and props objectionable. There is not much for the eye to look at, unless you enjoy seeing forty-year-old fat men in underwear or fake testicles pressed against a drum-set, nor are there pleasant sounds to sit back and relax to. But underneath the external ugliness of the film lies a depth that can only be viewed by those who dare to seek it.

Step Brothers manages to navigate the difficult worlds of grief, divorce, parenting, cultural norms, family, and sexuality in a way that is seemingly invisible. The director places so much emphasis on vulgarity and raunchy dialogue that audience members may easily cast aside the characters’ inner struggles and triumphs, tuning out the hidden meanings behind the film.

By using disgusting sounds like ketchup bottles being squeezed, loud farts, and annoying voices with harsh words, the viewer may either turn away from the film or laugh out loud. Fancy couches and sailboats, Range Rovers and chiseled abs, earpieces and large homes, helicopters and tuxedos are all props of a set which represent the “American Dream,” which neither stepbrother, Brennan nor Dale, desire. Makeup and costumes used on both brothers makes them appear old and wrinkly, while their family members appear healthy and full of vitality. The camera angles and close-up shots show every line on the stepbrothers’ faces and make them not only big personalities but big people. And even though over 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese, (Gulbin, 2019) the typical American viewer wants to see a “sexy” person on television and finds overweight men in belly shirts and underwear disgusting.

But behind a thick veil of grossness lies two middle-aged outside-the-box-thinkers and artists who were never taught the skills required to be responsible adults in a fast-paced society. Instead of working their life away, they focus on the things in life that bring them joy. Art, family, friendship, laughter, play, music, and relaxation. They refuse to work tirelessly for more when they already have what they want and need, which goes against the all-too-familiar façade of the hard-working, independent American. But in the end, the boys are forced to become men and a balance is struck between childlike fun and adultlike responsibility. All in all, director Adam McKay and his film crew did a great job of making viewers either love or hate the ridiculous, helpless Step Brothers, while either laughing or cringing along the way.


Gulbin, S. (2019, July 31). How Fat is America? An Overview of Obesity Statistics (2019) – Livin3. Livin3 | Science-Backed Nutrition and Training.

Published by secretgardenalaska

Best friends raising two daughters off-grid in a remote area of Alaska. We grow food, write stories, make jewelry, and live a sober life.