- Rated R
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All photos © Universal
Reviewed by David Medsker
ou knew it was coming: the ‘R’-rated comedy has officially hit the saturation point. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘R’-rated comedy is dead, or even that this week’s installment, “Role Models,” is a bad movie; in fact, the movie is quite funny, and there is a subtlety to the dialogue that its broader brethren (ahem, “Step Brothers”) lack. The problem is that the movie seems at odds with itself, armed with a brain but choosing to be vulgar because it feels obligated to do so.
Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are Wheeler and Danny, ad drones who go school to school preaching the evils of drugs while promoting the energy drink Minotaur. Danny lost his lust for life years ago, and after his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) has had enough and leaves him, Danny has a Minotaur-fueled meltdown at a school that leads to the arrest of both himself and Wheeler. Their choices are 30 days in jail or 150 hours of community service. They choose the latter, and end up as big brothers in the Sturdy Wings program, run by former coke whore Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch). Wheeler is assigned to Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed 10-year-old, and Danny gets Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, McLovin from “Superbad”), a medieval re-enactment junkie and embarrassment to his parents. Wheeler and Danny, of course, do not gel with their little brothers at first, but soon develop meaningful, if contentious, relationships with them.
The rest of the story writes itself: Danny and Wheeler screw up with their littles and could wind up in jail, both learn Valuable Lessons about themselves, the boys learn that they should do whatever makes them happy, etc. And there is a giant, ridiculous face-off during the medieval battle royale that is just too good to describe here. Along the way, there is a boatload of profanity, one unforgettable scene between Wheeler and a school teacher (hello, Jessica Morris!), and Jane Lynch working on her improv. Well, that’s how it feels, anyway; her character is constantly accusing Wheeler and Danny of trying to bullshit her (they’re not). The scenes feel completely off-the-cuff, but not in a good way, and the joke gets old in a hurry. She does have a great line in the final act, though.
“Role Models” is Rudd’s first screenplay credit (which he shares with three other people, including “State” alum Ken Marino and director David Wain), and to that all we can say is, what on earth took so long? His character Danny is a walking seminar on bone-dry comedic delivery, and he surely wrote those bits himself. The movie could have used more of them. Lord knows they wouldn’t have dated the movie quite like Ronnie’s tendency to refer to Danny as Ben Affleck, or Reindeer Games, or Daredevil, you get the idea. Scott, incredibly, is starting to grow on me. I had no use for his Stifler character in the “American Pie” movies, but he fits the role of Wheeler to a tee. Thompson has the easiest part here, because he just has to be the blunt instrument that hits anyone and everyone. Mintz-Plasse, meanwhile, is scary good for someone who’s only made a handful of movies. Look for him to only get better.
“Role Models” had an opportunity to stand apart from the raunch-com crowd, but doesn’t take advantage of it. Pity. Still, we’d much rather see Paul Rudd make a movie like this than another “Over Her Dead Body” any day of the week. And if we’re truly lucky, someone in Judd Apatow’s camp will let Rudd pen his own script next time.
Unrated Edition Blu-ray Review:
One look at the cast of "Role Models" will tell you that a serious amount of improvisation took place, and while that can be a mixed bag in terms of what hits the cutting room floor, the bonus features contained here are quite funny. For starters, there are just under 40 deleted scenes, and they're not just pointless transition scenes, either. Paul Rudd's bit with the ball, for one, should have made the final cut (and for you fans of boobies, there's a scene of Seann William Scott doing a girl on a copying machine). Along with the deleted scenes are bloopers galore, an audio commentary with director David Wain, three faux-featurettes on supporting characters, and an amusing behind-the-scenes clip. Blu-ray owners also get an additional 20 minutes of deleted scenes and a picture-in-picture video track featuring more interviews with the cast and crew. Good stuff, across the board.