Role Models – Review

Would you let these two supervise your kids?

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Director: David Wain
Notable Cast: Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb’e J. Thompson

Director David Wain is still a relatively unknown name in Hollywood. His two previous directorial outings include the cult hit Wet Hot American Summer and last year’s The Ten. He was also a member of the sketch comedy groups The State and Stella. Now he delivers his first “Hollywood” film with Role Models. Does it maintain it’s quirky Wain style, or does it fall into bland predictable big budget fare?

The story revolves around two lovable losers: Danny Donahue (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott). They work together traveling from high school to high school telling kids to stay off drugs and drink Minotaur energy drink. Wheeler, a KISS obsessed underachiever, loves his job that “he can do hung over” and spends most his time hooking up with chicks. Danny hates his job. In fact, he pretty much hates everything, picking a fight with the girl at Starbucks over Venti vs. large. He realizes he’s thirty-five and has accomplished nothing so far in life. This misery leads to his girlfriend, Beth (Elizabeth Banks), dumping him. This pushes him over the edge. He cusses out a group of high school kids then crashes the company’s Minotaur themed trunk rather suggestively into a school’s bronze horse statue.

Rather than spend 30 days in jail, the guys opt to do community service instead. This brings them to Sturdy Wings, a sort of Big Brother-type program that is run by the not so sturdy Gale Sweeney (Jane Lynch). Gale teams the guys up with two of Sturdy Wings most troubled kids: Augie Farks (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a dorky loner of a kid obsessed with LARP (Live Action Role Playing), a live action Dungeons & Dragons game, and Ronnie Shields (Robb’e J. Thompson) an uncontrollable, foul-mouthed little brat.

From there the film sort of falls into the predictable comedy pattern, the guys and the kids bond, then both the guys screw up and lose the kids, and are mad at each other and well, you know how these things end. But amidst the familiar story arc are some very wonderful characters, very hilarious moments and enough all around good storytelling for you to forgive the obvious. And the film’s climax that combines live action role-playing and KISS in a way you have to see for yourself is a perfect end to the enjoyable film.

Paul Rudd is his normal, amazing self and Seann William Scott is better than normal, but it is the minor characters that really jazz up this comedy. Jane Lynch shines as Gale. She is totally crazy and absolutely not somebody who should be running a program like Sturdy Wings, spouting inappropriate line after inappropriate line and having a very disturbing obsession with bagel dogs. The State veteran Joe Lo Truglio plays Kuzzik, one of Augie’s LAIRE friends and really sells the role playing aspect of the film. In fact the film is littered with The State and Wet Hot American Summer cast members that bring out the laughs. Also, Ken Jeong, the memorable Dr. Kuni from Knocked Up, is has hilarious as ever as King Argotron in Augie’s LARP world.

For his second film, Mintz-Plasse has certainly chosen wisely. Sure, he’s playing another nerdy character, but Augie is so well developed that Mintz-Plasse with not be labeled “McLovin” for the rest of his life. He shows that has range as an actor and is easily more funny in this film than he was in Superbad. Bobb’e J. Thompson has had a lot of small roles in his short career, but Ronnie is a sidesplitting and unforgettable character that will most certainly launch him to bigger and better things. If not for the superb performances from both these young actors, this film easily could have fallen to pieces.

Of course some attention must be paid to Elizabeth Banks, who plays Beth. With the release of this film that will place her in three films playing in theaters now, the other two being W. (where she plays Laura Bush) and the very hilarious Zack And Miri Make A Porno as the titular Miri. It is also worth noting that one of her earliest roles was in Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer. She’s a great and funny actress and delivers a wonderful performance here and it wonderful to see how far she’s come.

Role Models feels more like a cult film as opposed to a theatrical success, as it has that kind of feel. With its crass humor and language and few moments of nudity, underage teenagers all across the country will be trying to sneak into this film or rent it behind their parents back. It’s a fun, entertaining movie with a good story about friendship hidden beneath all the language and dorky role-playing.


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