27 November 2008

Role Models

Role Models
Sean William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks
WRITTEN BY Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino, Timothy Dowling
2008, 95 mins.

*** (out of ****)

Once Sean William Scott appeared onscreen in the trailer for Role Models, my ticket was bought. Not saying that I have a man-crush on Mr. Scott, just saying that since first watching the guy in American Pie (1999), I’ve been hooked to his comedic humor and acting chops (yes, he does have some). Paul Rudd being in the flick was just a bonus – he was always a bright spot in Judd Apatow productions while Seth Rogen laughed in such a manner it would give the Joker a chill. And upon finding out that Rudd also received a writing credit, as does Ken Marino, who I’m familiar with from the semi-hit-but-then-cancelled-by-evil-TV-executives Veronica Mars, I was even more thrilled for Role Models. Luckily, the movie lived up to my expectations (which was basically: ‘be funny, make me laugh’) and although it’s not the best comedy of the year, it’s in my top five. On the flip side, the movie’s ending hits the happy-sappy, cliché high note that makes you leave the theater with a wide smile and feeling all jolly inside. It’s probably the only appropriate ending, but not the one I was looking for; oh well, still fun.

Danny (Rudd) hates everything and Wheeler (Scott) loves all. Making a living as energy drink salesmen, going from school-to-school promoting the drink via anti-drug campaigns, Danny isn’t satisfied with his life anymore. To make matters worse, he’s approached his 10-year anniversary at the company, which puts him in a foul mood, and which in turn agitates his longtime girlfriend Beth (Banks), who breaks up with him. While on the job at a school, Danny says all the wrong things, find their company truck being towed, and attempt to drive away but end up crashing into the school statue instead. As punishment, it’s either a 30 day stint in jail or 150 hours of community service at a bird brother program called Sturdy Wings. Electing the ‘worse’ of two evils, they choose Sturdy Wins. Run by psychotic ex-druggie Gayle (Lynch), she pairs Danny with medieval role-player Augie (Mintz-Plasse) while Wheeler gets wild wise-cracker Ronnie, who is quite obsessed with breasts, and Wheeler takes it upon himself to show the small boy The Way. By the film's pretty cool climax, both Wheeler and Danny come to terms with their lives as they are right now, and how they can change to be better people (!).


I've started this review three times, and never finished it. Is that an indication of something? Did
I not enjoy the movie? Am I just not enthusiastic about it? Perhaps I just have no idea what to write other then the normal 'That due was good' and 'that dude was exceptional.' Comedies are very hard to give any sort of critique, I wager. I just have no idea what to say about Role Models other then I enjoyed it; not the best comedy in the entire universe, nor near as fantastic as I anticipated it to be, but it as still a fun flick.

Rudd is Rudd playing off the script's necessities. Role Models doesn't exactly force Rudd to explore his acting abilities, nor does it really branch into any territory he hasn't covered before, which is a shame, because Rudd is a phenomenal actor. Granted, the only non-comedy role I've seen him in was Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1996), but this dude is just one of those guy's where you feel it. Same with Dwayne Johnson, formally known as "The Rock." That dude has talent! Don't believe me? Rent Southland Tales (2007): won't understand a damn thing going on, but you'll see that Johnson is amazing. Fans of Mintz-Plasse will be happy; he successfully steps out of his McLovin shell and into a different brand of Nerdom. Kudos, Mintz.

Scott channels his Stifler persona occasionally, with his womanizing ways and sporting off dick jokes left and right. Pity thing is, Scott can act - for proof, watch The Rundown (2004), in which he was friggin' hilarious and brilliant in. Although Scott's given the weaker of the two stories, he gives it his all, and that's commendable. Elizabeth Banks fairs the worst. With seemingly ten dozen movies out in 2008, she seems to be everywhere, so if you want a Banks fix, see Kevin Smith's brilliant Zack & Miri Make a Porno instead. I'm not saying I don't enjoy looking at her beautifulness any chance I have, but her talent - and indeed, she has some! (and this first dawned on me when I was watching the horror flick Slither, of all films...) But basically, she isn't given much of anything to do but break up with Danny, provide legal counsel, move out, and gradually fall back in love (spoiler?).

One part that doesn't work is Jane Lynch as the ex-druggie runner of Sturdy Wings. Irritating and obnoxious in every scene she's in, she is most definitely not the film's highlight as some believe. I wasn't a fan of her brand of humor in 40-Year Old Virgin, and I don't enjoy her performance here, either. Her dialogue (which, these days, I don't know whether it's actually written or improvised) is more outlandish then any insane teen sex comedy scenario in my book. I would bet on the crazy life of John McClain being real moreso then I would any person on this planet saying the stupid stuff she said.

The script throws in plenty of jokes, a majority of it being raunchy sex humor, while there's plenty of smart gags as well, and it all works. It isn't brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but it is able to rise above 'average.' KISS references galore, breast-obsessions, and intelligent nabs at politics make it pretty damn enjoyable. Plus, the film's climax is a 10-minute midevil Battle Royale that is a joy to behold. Watching all these dudes dressed up in First Knight-armor, fake-killing each other - it's brilliant fun. Downside is: sappy conclusion, where all is right in the world (like there was any doubt).

Overall, Role Models isn't the most original comedy, but it definitely is one of the more enjoyable and funny ones out there.

No comments: