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  • 15
  • Comedy
  • 2008
  • 99 mins

Role Models

Role Models

Synopsis

In this comedy of arrested development, two immature adults have to mentor two children or go to jail. Sean William Scott stars

About

Joyless, uptight and cynical, Danny (Paul Rudd) hates his job, travelling from school to school as the spokesman for a high energy drink of questionable benefit to children, and lives for his long-term girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) - who is nonetheless about to dump him. Happy, hedonistic, and shallow, Wheeler (Seann William Scott) loves his job dressing up as the drink's minotaur mascot - and lives for sex, drugs and the rock band Kiss.

By some unwritten law of the buddy movie genre, these two mismatched workmates are also solid friends - even if one has completely lost touch with his inner child while the other has long since given up the search for his inner adult. It is a situation that is unexpectedly turned around when - after a series of meltdowns and misdemeanours - the irresponsible pair opts for 150 hours of community service over 30 days in prison, and they find themselves working with real kids as part of a mentorship programme.

Under the watchful eye of Gayle Sweeny (Lynch), Wheeler meets his match in foul-mouthed, 'boobie'-obsessed 10-year-old Ronnie (Bobb'e J Thompson), while Danny must join forces with Augie (Mintz-Plasse, McLovin from Superbad), a geeky, gawky teen obsessed with medieval role play. Everyone, it seems, has some growing up to do - but not before they can claim victory in the coming Battle Royale over King Argotron (Jeong) and his minions.

The basic plot of David Wain's big-kid comedy is influenced by its own set of role models, and practically writes itself. Wheeler and Danny are little more than The Odd Couple (1968) learning how to play Big Daddy (1999) amidst the nerdy fantasia of Napoleon Dynamite (2004).

Indeed, so perfunctory is the storyline that one of its major arcs, the relationship between Wheeler and Ronnie, literally goes nowhere, as though none of the four screenwriters could be bothered following through on the situation they have set up. Not that any of this really matters. Role Models is funny enough to get away with all the unoriginality and weakness of its narrative. We're talking laugh-out-loud, Judd Apatow funny (note the presence of Apatow alumni Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch and Ken Jeong), as genuine verbal wit dovetails perfectly with dumb-assed schoolboy antics and some all-round surreal absurdity.

This blending of the puerile and the adult is evident in the contrasting comic styles of Scott and Rudd, playing sparkily against one another. It is Jane Lynch, though, who steals the show, in a class of her own as a recovered crack whore who mangles her metaphors and revels just a little too much in recounting her past sins.

She gets all the most bizarre and outrageous lines, but it is her dead-straight delivery that elevates the character from the familiar stereotype of the lampooned authority figure to something altogether more memorably unhinged. Her jaw-dropping turn will leave audiences with a real high whose fuzzy pleasures will be remembered and cherished long after the film's other details have been utterly forgotten.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Kenny Marino, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Bobb'e J Thompson, Seann William Scott, Elizabeth Banks
  • Director: David Wain
  • Writer (Story): William Blake Herron, Timothy Dowling
  • Producer: Luke Greenfield, Matthew Seigel, Scott Stuber, Mary Parent
  • Photographer: Russ T Alsobrook
  • Composer: Craig Wedren

In a nutshell

It may be slight, it may be derivative, but this comedy for (if not quite about) adults is also deliriously funny.

by Anton Bitel

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