Rated R for crude and sexual content, strong language and nudity, 99 minutes
Wes's Grade: B-
"Role Models" won't win any awards, but it is crude fun & a guilty pleasure
I'll say upfront that "Role Models" is not a serious contender for any Oscars, but it is good, crude fun and guilty pleasure viewing. "Role Models" is a predictably but humorously staged buddy comedy that's made better by a game cast, two supporting players in particular nearly walk off with the film. I laughed far more than I should, and many might find themselves going more than once to listen to some of the funny lines quoted in the movie.
Paul Rudd is Danny, Seann William Scott is Wheeler, co-workers at an energy drink company who go out to schools with an anti-drug and pro-energy drink message. Mid-thirtysomething Danny wants more from life, including possible marriage with his attorney girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) while the free-spirited Wheeler seems to be having the time of his life. The two go on a energy-drink binge and trash the company truck. They face jail time until Beth gets them off with 150 hours of community service at a Big Brothers-type of organization run by an energetic ex-con (Jane Lynch).
Danny and Wheeler are now faced with the biggest challenges of their lives: Danny is paired with the teenage Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a geek obsessed with medieval role play ala Dungeons and Dragons, while Wheeler is paired with Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a fast-talking, profane little kid who knows way more than he should. Directed and written by TV actor and writer David Wain (and co-written along with Rudd), the film's material might be offputting and offensive to some, but taken in the right spirit, it's quite hilarious.
Rudd and Scott make a good team, but they're completely upstaged by two supporting players who spout some of the film's best lines. Jane Lynch, a Christopher Guest movie alum and a sharp comic actress, is the ex-con center director who refuses to be outsmarted by anyone. At the movie's end she has what is probably the best line, of which can only be repeated here, "I don't mean to be crude, but..."
Thompson, as the profane Ronnie, also steals scenes (not to mention a jeep) with a quick very adult wit. Seeing him dressed up as a member of the rock group KISS is a fun sight to behold. The film's material is otherwise slight and unoriginal, and the last act in particular, an extended medieval forest role play, goes on far too long. Mintz-Plasse, by the way (otherwise known as McLovin from last year's "Superbad") is also funny though he runs the risk of being typecast.
Rudd and Scott have a good time and also throw out a few good, sarcastic lines ("Venti is not large," he says of his coffee), while Banks is barely there as Rudd's girlfriend. I liked "Role Models" more than I should given that it's not a superb film, but guilty pleasure entertainment like this may provide much-needed laughs and an escape from the real world, and there's nothing wrong with that.