Cookie-cutter grossout still kind of sweet

The boys and their "Role Models" : Christopher Mintz-Plasse (left)and Paul Rudd, with Seann William Scott and Bobb'e J. Thompson.
The boys and their "Role Models" : Christopher Mintz-Plasse (left)and Paul Rudd, with Seann William Scott and Bobb'e J. Thompson.
Posted: November 07, 2008

At some point in the not-too-distant future, the whole stupid-guys-doing-stupid-things-before-finding- redemption-and-a-girlfriend comedy is going to implode in a deja vu moment of profound multiplex ennui.

But until that time - and that movie - comes along, Hollywood isn't about to stop making sex-on-the-brain self-improvement comedies like Role Models. And Paul Rudd (Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Seann William Scott (Old School, the American Pies) aren't about to stop starring in them, either.

Here, Danny (Rudd) and Wheeler (Scott) are Los Angeles buddies who hawk an energy drink called Minotaur to school kids. Presenting it as a healthy alternative to getting high - Wheeler in a minotaur costume, Danny the straight guy with the "Just say no to drugs" mantra - they tool around town cynically selling this green caffeine/ginseng junk to tweens and teens.

Wheeler's happy with the gig: It gives him plenty of time to pursue the ladies. But Danny, in his mid-30s, is feeling miserable: He hates his job, and complains incessantly to lawyer girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks - her third movie in as many weeks, after W. and Zack and Miri Make a Porno). A trip to a chain coffee place, where Danny goes into a rant about the tall/grande/venti sizing system, offers a (funny) illustration of just how sour and curmudgeonly he's become.

And then: the day it falls apart. Beth breaks up with Danny, and Danny and Wheeler crash their Minotaur-mobile, destroying public property in the process. In lieu of jail, Beth negotiates community service: Danny and Wheeler must spend 150 hours in a Big Brothers-like outfit called Sturdy Wings. Danny gets a dweeby fantasy game obsessive, Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad's McLovin), as his protege. Wheeler gets Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed, fatherless 10-year-old.

Role Models, written by a bunch of folks (including Rudd) is directed by David Wain, late of the comedy troupe The State and director of Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten. It's pretty formulaic stuff, and earns its R rating with profanity and unapologetically gratuitous female nudity, but somehow has a winning knuckleheaded charm.

Jane Lynch just about steals the show with her performance as the garrulous head of Sturdy Wings - a woman who wears her own addictions (cocaine) like a badge of honor. (Or like a billboard.) This recovering addict doesn't think much of Danny and Wheeler, and the two goof-offs don't behave in a manner to make her think otherwise. At least, not at first.

A live-action, loopy, medieval-battle role-playing event is without a doubt where Role Models delivers the most laughs: Danny and Wheeler, with their two young charges, join the nerdy, armor-clad throng in a Los Angeles park, crossing swords, striking down the enemy armies and addressing one another as "thou" and "my liege."

It doth make one amused.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|