March 20, 2009

Written by Ben Begley

When I first saw previews for “Role Models” I thought it was going to be another cute, family-friendly comedy that just kind of came and went out of theaters. Then I found out it was directed by David Wain and written by Paul Rudd, David Wain, and Ken Marino (some of the geniuses behind MTV’s “The State” and one of my all-time favorite comedies “Wet Hot American Summer), after learning this I was immediately sold. So instead of getting a sugarcoated, boy-becoming-a-man-story, I got an incredibly vulgar, hysterical, raunchy boy-becoming-a-man-story by mentoring a foul-mouthed little kid and becoming one of the Knights of Laire (or LARP Live Action Role Playing) in the ultimate Ren-fair nerd showdown. “Role Models” is yet another comedy film in this new and fantastic trend to take a good moral message and wrap it in crude, outrageous humor (the same themes Apatow has gloriously made a career of).

The film centers around Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) two over-grown boys who can’t seem to grow up. Danny goes through life in a cynical and sarcastic haze, alienating himself from his girlfriend Beth, played by every nerds dream girl Elizabeth Banks. Wheeler, on the other hand, finds joy in everything, he spends his days and nights partying and hooking up with random hotties along the way. Both of them work for an energy drink company and go around to schools trying to get kids hooked on the caffeine addiction early. Danny’s world comes crashing down when Beth breaks up with him and he accidentally drives their company truck up school property damaging a state statue. Now the boys have to either face jail time or become Big Brothers for a youth organization called “Sturdy Wings” led by an oversexed middle-aged woman you don’t want to “bullshit” Gale (Jane Lynch). Here’s where the scene stealing little kids come in, Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson) and Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Danny is assigned to Augie, an antisocial supernerd who is part of a medieval role playing society and Wheeler is assigned to the foul-mouthed little Ronnie who is obsessed with boobies and loves making jokes about them being white like “You white, you Ben Affleck.” These four initially don’t get along very well and some ridiculous scenarios play out, including a house party, camping trip with boobs of course, and a medieval knights showdown to end all LARP showdowns. Eventually the kids grow to respect Wheeler and Danny and the “grown-ups” actually grow up, in the most non-cheesy, hysterical way possible.

The best part about “Role Models” is that is takes a well-worn formula of two arrested development guys that refuse to grow up and add so many fresh and unexpected elements to it. Most of the things that come out of Ronnie’s mouth are too random and obscene to write and I didn’t expect so much time to be spent on the world of the medieval knights and LARP, but that was some of the best stuff, especially a scene where Danny has to go talk to the King of Laire in his castle (the local burger joint). There is enough nerd humor, crude guy humor, rom-com elements, and a good moral message that the demographic for this film is pretty broad. Even my parents, although they may blush at some of the language and boobies, would find this funny because behind all it’s vulgarity there is a genuine heart and relatability to these characters. We understand the cynicism of Danny, I’d be cynical too if I was in my 30’s and working as a promo guy for an energy drink company. And I think all of us wish we could be a little more like Wheeler and find child-like enjoyment in everything we do, at least I wish I could. That’s why these characters are perfect foils for each other; it’s a modern day odd-couple. The two kids compliment each other really well too, with Ronnie being super out-going and foul-mouthed and Augie being that nerd that we all knew in middle school (or some of us were, like me). Add Jane Lynch who I think is always funny as hell and a slew of other people from “The State” and Apatow crew as well as the lovely Elizabeth Banks and you have a movie and a cast that can’t go wrong.

This movie is funny as hell, period. I loved it. there is not a single thing negative I have to say about it. The unrated version has a little bit more boobage in it, so if you’re watching it with someone a little more prude stick to the rated version, but either way check it out. This is easily in my top five comedies of the year.


Deleted and Alternate takes: for once this feature is worth watching, although I see why the scenes were cut, there is some really funny stuff here. My favorite is a scene at “Sturdy Wings” where they bounce a ball around a circle and say what they’ve learned about their mentor or “little,” needless to say Danny and Wheeler don’t have much to say.

Bloopers- I’m a sucker for bloopers, especially when really funny people can’t hold it together. Great little bit to watch

In Character and Off-Script- this gives some of the smaller characters a chance to riff a bit in character, including Matt Walsh and Joe Lo Truglio. It’s obvious they just had some downtime on set and threw this together, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch.

On the Set of Role Models- Behind the scenes of making the film and man it made me jealous, looks like a hell of a lot of fun.

Feature Commentary with director David Wain (he can even make a commentary funny!!)

Game on- Creating a Role Playing World- shows all that went into creating the medieval knights arena and costumes.



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