Gemma La Mana
John C. Reilly, left, and Will Ferrell play adult adolescents who live with their respective single parents and become "Step Brothers."

STEP BROTHERS — ** — Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins; rated R (vulgarity, profanity, violence, sex, brief nudity, slurs, brief drugs, brief gore)

The hits produced by Judd Apatow and company have always pushed the limits of what's considered cinematic and comic good taste.

But what ultimately redeemed the better movies of that naughty-comedy bunch — "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," for example — is that they had a real heart beating inside the crude body.

However, their latest, "Step Brothers," is fairly heartless. And once the shock from some of the more noxious jokes wears off, the movie just turns annoying and repetitive.

The comedy reteams Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who appeared together in 2006's "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." They co-wrote the script and play the title characters, adult adolescents who live with their respective single parents.

Brennan Huff (Ferrell) is still being spoiled rotten by his kindhearted mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), while Dale Doback (Reilly) is practically bullying his father, Robert (Richard Jenkins).

But their comfortable lifestyles appear to be endangered when Robert and Nancy meet, fall in love and decide to get married. Suddenly, Brennan and Dale are forced to share a room.

And as expected, these two strong personalities develop a sibling rivalry. Though eventually the two men do find something to bring them together: Brennan's successful younger brother, Derek (Adam Scott), whom they both despise.

Again, there's too much emphasis on crudity and not enough on characterizations. The choice of director — "Talladega Nights" helmer Adam McKay — doesn't help.

McKay has no sense of pacing, and there appear to be several transition scenes missing, though you really don't want this silly mess to last longer than it already does.

Also, Ferrell and Reilly have played these kinds of doofuses so many times now that it's become old and feels stale.

"Step Brothers" is rated R for crude sexual and scatological humor (references and sight gags), strong sexual profanity and other language, supposedly comic violence (mostly brawling), simulated sex and other sexual contact, brief male nudity and glimpses of nude photos, derogatory slurs and language (some based on sexual preference), brief marijuana references, and brief movie gore. Running time: 95 minutes.

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