Writer/Producer/Director/Hollywood sweetheart Judd Apatow's alleged sexism has been oft-discussed 'round these parts, and in her review of the new Apatow production Step Brothers, the NY Times' Manohla Dargis explores Judd's comedic man-child meme and rips it a new asshole. Quick plot summary: Step Brothers stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, and the two lumbering 40-somethings play losers who still live with their respective parents and love Star Wars. Emotionally stunted grown dudes who have trouble relating to women and play with toys. Sound familiar?
Anyway, Dargis takes issue, not only with the smug step brothers of the title, but also with the portrayal of the women they love. "So, once again, there is the spectacle and pathos of the sexually stunted immature male, here times two: Brennan (Mr. Ferrell) and Dale (Mr. Reilly)," Dargis writes. "Mary Steenburgen, as Brennan's mother, Nancy, takes the fantasy parent role: she's saintly, sexy - her relaxed, ready smile telegraphs satisfaction - and endlessly patient. She looks good for a woman who would have had her youngest at about 14."
Dargis goes on to skewer the film further for its semi-insulting portrayal of both men and women, but really, it seems like the cardinal sin in this comedy is that it's not especially funny. I don't really mind so much if comedies don't show women in the best light or elevate the adolescent male psyche, so long as they're entertaining. But Dargis' description of Ferrell and Reilly — "They're losers that only a mother, an entertainment manager or a gang of self-satisfied comedy insiders could love" — makes me think this movie is both vaguely insulting and entirely unfunny. Come on Apatow and Co., we've seen Freaks and Geeks, and even the actual adolescents in that show were more mature than these dingbats. You can do better. Whatever, I'll probably see it anyway. (You're talking to a woman who saw Let's Go To Prison in theaters. I have no standards.)