Role Models Directed by: David Wain Cast: Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb’e J. Thompson Time: 1 hr 35 min Rating: R
Plot: Two energy drink reps (Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott) get into trouble with the law, and they agree to spend time with troubled kids in order to avoid 30 days in jail. Danny Donahue (Rudd) is assigned to the D&D worshipping Augie (Christoper Mintz-Plasse) and Wheeler (Scott) is assigned to pint-sized terror Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson).
Who’s It For? Anyone over 18 years old with the emotional maturity of a 15 year old, such as myself. There are adult themes throughout, including nudity and language—most notably the f-bomb, which is dropped with cheerful frequency.
Expectations: Low, low, and lower still. I went in expecting another lame, diluted attempt at Superbad, and then Role Models charmed the pants right off me.
Paul Rudd as Danny Donahue: Paul Rudd is always adorable. Rudd and David Wain wrote the screenplay for Role Models , so really you get the idea that Rudd is basically playing himself. Any character Rudd takes on ends up being likeable, because Rudd himself is so appealing. I didn’t completely buy Rudd as the depressed and frustrated Danny, but then again, I didn’t really care that I wasn’t totally convinced. Rudd is charming and funny and I’m willing to watch him pretend to mope around, because I still get to watch him. Win-win. Score: 7
Seann William Scott as Wheeler: Scott will never shake off all traces of Stifler, because he’s such an imp. Between his sh*t-eating grin and his twinkling eyes, he is just brimming with naughty mischief-—it’s the same expression you see on the face of little boys right before they decide to jump their skateboard off the roof or set the dog on fire. Scott’s Wheeler is basically a toned-down Stifler, with a few extra brain cells and a bigger heart. Score: 6
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Augie: Mintz-Plasse (Aka McLovin’ from Superbad) is absolutely precious as the sweet-natured, nerdarific Augie. Very rarely do the movies present us with nerdy characters without any self-loathing, and Augie is perfectly happy with himself and his life. He likes wearing a cape in public. He likes dressing up as a knight and fighting in the name of an imaginary country, with the rest of the happy-go-lucky role-playing nerds. His so-called “abnormality” is subjective based on the prejudice of the other characters, and the movie doesn’t even try to force Augie to conform. From one nerd to another: bravo.
Bobb’e J. Thompson as Ronnie: Thompson is the mini Tasmanian devil who wreaks havoc in Wheeler’s life. The character is underdeveloped, but it doesn’t matter, because Thompson is the perfect foil for Wheeler. Wheeler and Ronnie are misbehaving versions of each other and the chemistry between Thompson and Scott is a lot of fun. Thompson is a gleefully naughty little force of nature, but the film doesn’t give the character as much time or explanation. The end result is that you have a vague, and unsatisfying understanding of Ronnie’s inner machinations. Score: 6
Talking: The dialogue is fun and fast and sweet and dirty, which is, I admit, an unusual combo. Whereas a lot of exchanges in movies tend to focus on the “big picture,” (i.e. furthering the plot), the dialogue in Role Models is more like a quick and easy conversation between pals. Rudd and Scott play off each other wonderfully, and Jane Lynch really holds her own as the semi-incomprehensible ex-drug addict, Gayle Sweeney. Score: 7
Sights & Sounds: There is nothing unique or spectacular about the film’s scenery or cinematography, until the grand battle at the end. If not for the ending, the movie would have earned a 5 or 6 for funny and (mostly) well-edited scenes without eeking out anything extraordinary. But the classic battle of the D&D nerds cannot be denied its wacky creativity, and therefore… Score: 7
Best Scene: The epic “battle” at the end of the movie is to die for. I hate to say I was delighted, because it reeks of movie previeweese (“A rollercoaster ride of excitement!” “A heartwarming tale of redemption!”), but I was seriously delighted-—I mean delighted to the point of giggling into my hands and grinning like the happiest fool on God’s green earth. We are talking Delight with a capital D, people.
Ending: Formulaic and predictable, yes, but only as far as the bare-bones plot is concerned: Slackers discover the meaning of friendship/life/love/etc. when they are forced to interact with troubled children. You know the story and you know how it’s going to end, but its means to an end is so fun and charming, the predictability factor doesn’t even register.
Questions: Would Ronnie really be that tough and angry when his mom is so super-cool and supportive? That’s the only thing that kept bothering me. I’m not saying this movie is an accurate depiction of reality by any means, but I could suspend my disbelief with everything else.
Rewatchability: Definitely, yes. The funnier elements of dialogue creep up on you so fast, that I need to see it a second time just to catch all the gags, both subtle and overt.
At its heart, Role Models is a multi-layered buddy movie and that is my favorite type of comedy. It's goofy without the hidden vein of meanness, and the ending turns out to be the buddy movie’s version of a Cinderella Happily-Ever-After. Role Models is that crazy, funny drinking buddy-—it won’t effect any remote change on your life for better or worse, but it’s still damned fun to hang around with.
Final Score: 7/10