I’ve been pretty vocal in my resistance to anything from Judd Apatow or starring Jonah Hill, so when I got a chance to see a comedy that neither had any involvement in, I jumped at the chance. That film was Role Models and is one of the five best comedies of 2008. Maybe my second favorite of the year. Bold, I know. But true.
From director David Wain, who co-wrote with star Paul Rudd, Role Models is the tale of two energy drink salesmen who, after one bad day of relationship problems and over-caffeination, find themselves and their gigantic sales truck perched upon a school statue imploring those nearby to “Taste the beast.” Thanks to Danny’s (Rudd) recently ex-girlfriend lawyer, they’re sentenced to 150 hours of community service with the Sturdy Wings program rather than jail. Danny is paired with the nerdy Live Action Role Player Augie Farks (Mintz-Plasse) while his excitable, sex-fiend friend Wheeler (Seann William Scott) is paired with 10 year old hellion Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson). As is to be expected, the comedic pairings go horribly wrong, then fantastically right, before each “role model” makes a mistake, severing the relationship with their “little.” The battle to win back their hearts involves arguments over shitting side-ways, KISS, and a pitched battle of nerds in costumes. Yes, LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing, finally makes a triumphant major release debut on the big screen and it is awe inspiring.
I found the film to be immensely relatable, which is probably a bad thing because these role models are often anything but. Danny flips out on a barista at a Starbucks-esque coffee shop over their ridiculous insistence on serving “Grandes” and “Ventis,” while Wheeler spends most of his day thinking about, and looking at, breasts. The conversations and style of speaking rings true to the way we talk these days, with plenty of curse words and sarcastic zing-backs. Seann William Scott especially impressed me in this outing – I’ve always liked him, but in this movie I freaking love him. He is spot on hilarious and seems like he’d fit in with any group of assholes, aka, our friends and us. Paul Rudd nails the depressed sarcastic guy, who by his own admission “hates everything.” His indifference to the world after his break-up is hilarious and delivered with such deadpan sincerity it’s easy to laugh out loud. When the awkward Augie asks if Danny would like to see his turtle, his casual “No, I’m good” comes out effortlessly and cold as ice, though without the intent to hurt. Rudd really embodies that guy who is so uninvolved with the world that he doesn’t realize he’s hurting those around him.
The supporting cast is great and there are a good number of recognizable faces. Bobb’e J. Thompson gets a lot of big laughs with his foul language and is a perfect PIC (partner in crime) for Scott. Mintz-Plasse is playing it safe as a McLovin-esque character, displaying his awkward nerdiness. His character is somewhat flat at the films start, but by the end he, and Augie, are emboldened and up the laughs. Time will tell if Mintz-Plasse can break the chains of an immensely popular debut, but in Role Models he does a good job of playing the role and scores some great laughs after the midway point of the film. Also joining the cast are Joe Lo Truglio, the funny Ken Jeong, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks, and the “sexy like a chocolate covered strawberry” Carly Craig.
All in all, Role Models is a very funny film with lots of laugh out loud moments, which is rare for me. The audience who saw it with me voiced their enthusiasm with near constant raucous laughter. I hadn’t bothered to watch the regular trailer until after I saw the movie, and that trailer is somewhat underwhelming. The Red Band Trailer, however, was awesome. The movie, as you may be getting the impression, is awesome. It’s definitely got some foul language type bottom humor about dicks and boobs, and we see some boobs, but it all seems appropriate and in character. The film is immensely quotable and I find myself talking about it almost non-stop, to the point of annoying my friends. The characters of Danny and Wheeler also go through believable transformations, which is rare in comedy. When this movie hits theaters on November 7th, I say you go see it. It’ll keep you in stitches from start to finish. And hey, this movie even made KISS cool again.
Are you planning on seeing Role Models? Did you see both trailers – thoughts?