Role Models, brought to you by Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain, is the most vulgar and heart-warming thing I have seen since the 40 Year-Old Virgin. And it may actually be a little more cockle-heating than that, but I’m not sure. Paul Rudd, reliable veteran of both the Frat Pack and the Apatow Gang, gets to really bring his game as a co-lead (with Seann William Scott of American Pie fame) for the first time. Rudd gets to be crass, apathetic, charming, funny, romantic, bromantic, and cool all at once. His partner in crime Scott is no stranger to crass-but-sincere comedy, and they have a great oil and water chemistry together. Scott looks the part of a scruffy, devil-may-care layabout, but Rudd’s preppy cute boy looks belie the hilarious dark depths within him. For more evidence, see everything he has ever done all the way back to Clueless.
Rudd’s in a rut and Scott is rudderless, and they flounder their way into a sort of Big Brother Big Sister-type organization run by the permanently awesome Jane Lynch. Why is she not yet a household name? You’ve seen her in Christopher Guest and Judd Apatow movies and she’s always bringing the weird greatness. Anyway, our hapless heroes are assigned two difficult kids, Ronnie (Bobb’e Thompson) and Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and let the games begin! Thompson is hysterically honest in his disrespectful quick-wittedness and brazen independence, and Mintz-Plasse is irresistible as a misunderstood delta-male, too-old-for-this nerd, deeply into a sort of modified Society for Creative Anachronism called L.A.I.R.E. I won’t say much more, because the joy of this movie is all the surprises and hilarity that befalls our feckless foursome. Suffice it to say, we have kings, parties, cussing, dug references, KISS music, and puerile brilliance all around.
Elizabeth Banks (taking up Paul Rudd’s mantle of being in everything but kind of off to the side) is a terrific exasperated straight man to the shenanigans of her boyfriend Rudd and his coworker Scott. How do you compete with Stifler and McLovin in the same movie? She has to be the grown-up but she does it with aplomb and doesn’t get buried. The rest of the supporting cast (Kerry Kenney-Silver, Ken Jeong. Joe Lo Truglio, and more) bring their vast resumes of comedy and snark to a script that manages to give us a little of everything without getting bogged down with superfluous nonsense. Wain and Rudd wrote the script along with Timothy Downing and Ken Marino, the latter of which cameos as Augie’s loutish step-father; I hope this combo makes us laugh some more in the future.
I had big, serious laughs and plenty of silly proto-Porky’s giggles, and some genuine, unfaked, real life pathos. Huzzah for nerds and hurrah for the unuptight! Go see it, it’s totally worth it.
MPAA Rating R-crude, sexual content, strong language, nudity
Release date 11/7/08
Time in minutes 99
Director David Wain
Studio Universal Pictures