15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Step Brothers’
With the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of his entire directorial filmography, Step Brothers is somehow Adam McKay’s most divisive comedy. Critics at the time called it “desperately stupid” and “a loud, ugly, foul comedy,” with Roger Ebert himself accusing it of lowering “the civility of our civilization.” Boy, little did Roger know what lay ahead for us in terms of civility.
Yet, this screwball buddy comedy, co-written by McKay and Will Ferrell, about two adult men who refuse to grow up, has garnered more and more fans over the years, with many now considering it one of the best comedies of all time. We’ll say, with confidence, that it’s the best comedy featuring a grown man getting squashed by another grown man via bunk bed. By far. And aside from the debates about quality, it’s also left a legacy of interesting facts to dive into, including...
Dale’ s Mother Burned to Death in a Hot Air Balloon
In the theatrical cut, we never learn what exactly happened to the boys’ absent parents, or who they even were. Luckily, we have things like gag reels and outtakes and YouTube now. In a deleted scene from the parents’ wedding, Dale gives a toast to his deceased mother, who, according to him, loved hot air balloons but burned and died thanks to propane gas being invisible. Brennan’s dad, it turns out, is an ex-banker who hasn’t been seen since an incident involving a bag of cocaine and a gun at an airport.
Adam Scott Based His Character on a Luxury-Lifestyle Magazine
Widely known as the actor’s big comedic break, Scott said that his character Derek made him think of the Robb Report, a magazine known for convincing rich people that they need more luxury yachts. Scott had that idea in his head when he went in to audition — “Guys with suits on, on tarmacs in front of private jets… in their sunglasses, with their slicked-back hair” — and said he just remembers being in character and calling Mark Cuban “The Cubes.”
The Movie Spawned a Real-Life Event
The Catalina Wine Mixer event was totally made up for the movie. However, it was such a hit that people couldn’t stop quoting it (see the next entry). Seven years after the movie was released, the event where Ferrell sang like an angel became a reality and is still ongoing.
The New Orleans Saints Quoted the Movie After Winning the Super Bowl
McKay said that Ferrell called him after the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010 and told him to read an article online. It described how the Saints kept shouting, “It’s the f—ing Catalina Wine Mixer!” in their locker room following their victory because that line can literally mean anything now.
Richard Jenkins, the ‘Anti-Chevy Chase Version of a Dad’
McKay said that they decided on Jenkins for the role of Dale’s dad because of his look. Apparently, the actor nailed the “conservative dad from Pasadena” criteria while not having the forced-jokey vibe of a Chevy Chase.
Brennan Once Had to Wear a Halo Brace Around His Genitals
We learn so, so much about the man-children in this deleted and very long scene where they talk about sex and other things (but mostly sex) up in their treehouse. Brennan claims that he once got 18 stitches on his nutsack and that they had to put a halo on him to, uh, keep him away. In the final cut of the tree house scene, Playboys had to be CGed into Hustlers, while the word “Playboy" was ADRed to "nudie mags” as the magazine forbade them from using the brand while mentioning masturbation, which was so, so progressive of it.
The ‘Boats ‘N’ Hoes’ PAC
In 2014 the movie’s famous rap song went political when a staffer at a GOP political consulting firm — hired by the campaign to get Greg Abbott elected as Texas governor — registered a PAC using the song’s name. After the Democrats hit back, saying it was just another example of Republicans being disrespectful toward women, the PAC was, to no one’s surprise, dissolved.
Ken Jeong’s Short Scene Took Three Hours to Film
The actor told The Ringer that his 25-second scene took three hours to complete, thanks to McKay’s knack for letting actors improvise themselves raw. They shot so much footage — “a million and a half feet of film,” according to McKay — that Kodak sent over champagne.
Will Ferrell Drew From His Own Experience
The comedian said that he definitely related to the concept of two grown men still crashing at their parents’ house. “I could totally relate to this,” Ferrell told Coming Soon. “I lived at home for three years after college. I had the benefit of a very patient mother who was like, ‘All right.’”
The Drafted SeaWorld Idea That Was Later Used in ‘Anchorman 2’
McKay said that the initial script for Step Brothers ran nearly 200 pages, meaning many funny jokes and scenes ended up getting cut. One sequence involved the brothers freaking each other out at night to the point that they convinced their parents that there was an intruder in the house. Dr. Doback (Dale’s dad) fires a shot with his gun, the police arrive and Dale and Brennan try to defuse their parents’ outrage by suggesting they go to SeaWorld.
“And then it’s this giant trip to SeaWorld,” McKay explained. “It’s the greatest day ever. The parents both just buy into the dysfunction and have this amazing time at SeaWorld, except that (Brennan’s mom’s) purse gets snatched. It’s all a montage, and then they’re driving home with giant grins on their faces. And then all of a sudden, Dr. Doback hits the brakes on the car, and he’s just like, ‘What the fuck are we doing?’”
The idea to feature SeaWorld was later used in the Anchorman sequel.
The Word ‘Bunk Beds’ in ‘Talladega Nights’ Inspired the Concept of ‘Step Brothers’
McKay recalled that while editing his other movie with Ferrell and John C. Reilly, “Someone said ‘bunk beds,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, what if they’re adult step brothers?’ I called them up, and they’re like, ‘I love it.’”
The Neighborhood Where They Filmed Got a Real Kick Out of the Movie
There were times when the location shoots had a real-life audience in the form of the neighbors. Mary Steenburgen (who plays Nancy Huff, Brennan’s mom) spoke about the “filthy” things McKay would throw at her to say while they were shooting a scene. “The scene with the bicycles,” the actress remembered. “There’s people all over the neighborhood watching, and Adam’s screaming, ‘Mary, say, ‘What the fucking fuck?’ You had to wait for all the people in the neighborhood to stop laughing. And I say it, and they start laughing again.”
Evan Peters Turned to ‘Step Brothers’ to Cope with Playing Jeffrey Dahmer
When the actor was done filming the Netflix series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, he needed something to help him “step away from the darkness.” The movie where two grown men refuse to get jobs because they just want to watch Shark Week was apparently the right medicine. Peters said that knowing he could go home and leave all that negativity behind and just watch Step Brothers got him through it.
John C. Reilly Was Legitimately Crying During the Divorce Scene
It might sound hilariously over-the-top, but while praising Ferrell and Reilly’s acting abilities, Adam Scott said that Reilly was really crying. For a silly comedy scene, that’s simply A+ commitment.
The Audio Commentary Is Done Like A Musical
Yep, McKay, Ferrell, Reilly and the movie's music composer, Jon Brion, decided it would be the most fun doing the DVD commentary through the gift of song. They joke-sing about Steenburgen being a “rough kinda lady” who “wears leather pants for no reason” and that Jenkins is great except for his “crystal meth addiction.”
It's perfect, just like the movie.