Review: Role Models

Role Models (2008)
101 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by David Wain
Starring:  Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch


Grade:  B-

I don’t know if it’s because I liked Paul Rudd’s I Love You, Man so much, but Role Models just didn’t cut it for me.  Rudd’s sensitive and lack of masculinity in Peter, in my opinion, was a lot funnier than his self-loathing Danny in Role Models.  Heck, Peter was funnier than Danny, Wheeler (Scott), the two boys, and the ex-junkie Sturdy Wings leader (Lynch).  Okay, maybe that’s a bit too far.  For what it’s worth, I actually thought Role Models was pretty good.

In order to avoid jail time, Danny and Wheeler have to serve 150 hours at Sturdy Wings, a one-on-one mentoring program for young kids.  Danny, who just got dumped from his lawyer girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) gets assigned to Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a super-geek who enjoys playing medieval times games a lot more than relating to the real world.  Wheeler gets assigned to Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), the foul-mouthed, distant 10-year-old black kid who has chased the previous eight big brothers prior to Wheeler.  Neither of them want to be at Sturdy Wings.  Danny even suggests that prison would be less painful, but they continue with the recommended community service.

Through some very funny situations, Danny and Wheeler become attached to their little brothers.  They offer things to the littles that they didn’t have.  Ronnie looks up to Wheeler as the big brother or father that he doesn’t have.  And Augie is able to relate to and share his mind with Danny, something he cannot do with his close-minded parents.  At the same time the big brothers learn things from their littles that they couldn’t see for themselves.

Role Models revolves around Paul Rudd.  He’s the central character that affects his surroundings and he does a good job at achieving his purpose on screen.  His transformation affects how the movie plays out… whether he’s mad at the world and hates his life (which comes across as one funny quote after another) or really tries to be a big brother to Augi and sings a song to get his girlfriend back, his mood swings change the tone of the film.  This is one reason I didn’t feel like it was a complete movie.  It almost had the Wedding Crasher formula, where the first half of the film is wacky and funny and then the second half becomes very lackluster.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the epic fantasy medieval times battle sequence at the end… but that was more of a gimmick than a true plot device (and Augie didn’t even freaking win!).

Role Models was almost a laugh-out-loud adventure.  I’m not sure why it was Rated-R… it could’ve appealed to a wider audience during its theatrical run if the language was slightly tuned down a notch.  It definitely didn’t feel like a Rated-R film, although that’s probably because I’ve gotten used to the raunchy Judd Apatow classics.  Overall, Paul Rudd stood out from the rest of the cast as the great comedic actor he is.  He doesn’t do too much and is able to somehow extract funny moments from typical situations.  After all is done, Role Models was a fun movie to sit through.

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