“Role Models” - Rock n’ Role

Tue, 11/11/2008 - 5:21pm
By: Michael Boylan


If you just read the plot of this film, two losers learn a lot about themselves when they are forced to mentor two outcast kids, you’d probably reach for the barf bags and turn off the Hallmark Channel, wondering why you took so much nighttime cold medicine during the day anyway. “Role Models” takes the ultra-formulaic plot and turns it on its ear by making it an R-rated comedy that keeps all of the heart and sentimentality of a Movie of the Week but also makes you laugh like crazy.

The two “losers” are Danny and Wheeler played by Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott. Danny hates his job promoting a nasty energy drink by telling kids to stay off drugs, while Wheeler, who gets to wear the minotaur costume and keep living his extreme bachelor lifestyle, loves his job. Danny has a big meltdown one day and drives the minotaur truck into a statue at a high school, after giving a highly inappropriate speech. Instead of going to jail, the duo have to perform 150 hours of community service with Sturdy Wings, a mentoring organization like Big Brothers.

Let the hilarity ensue.

Actually, the first part of this movie was already hilarious and things just get funnier when Danny and Wheeler, the “bigs” get paired up with their “littles.” Danny’s little is Augie, a role playing geek played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin!) and Wheeler’s little is Ronnie, a foul mouthed, young black kid with a penchant for violence and grand theft auto. Think Dennis the Menace mixed with Tupac.

“Role Models” follows the plot stucture of films like this, but tweaks it consistently. For instance, Wheeler and Ronnie eventually bond and find a connection, but it is with a way to covertly check out girls and the innuendoes in songs by Kiss. Danny also finds a way to connect with Augie, but it isn’t by convincing him to ditch role playing, but rather by agreeing with him that his parents are jerks (and they really are).

“Role Models” is directed by David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer - which is a classic) and he uses a number of his favorite actors in this including several of his buddies from “The State,” a terrific sketch comedy troupe, and the ever-popular Elizabeth Banks, who seems to be in every great comedy.

The greatest thing about this movie is the way that everything builds believably into a grand finale that ties everything together. If it weren’t an R-rated comedy with a definite edge, the movie would feel weak and paper thin, but this feels like a solid comedy from start to finish. I haven’t seen “Zach and Miri,” but it would have to be really good to top this.

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