Role Models

I’ve started and stopped this review so many times, I can’t remember if I, in fact, already did review it. It’s mostly the holiday season and what-not, but to a degree it’s that the new Paul Rudd/Sean William Scott vehicle Role Models is not all that memorable.

It’s not bad. In fact, The Boy really liked it. The story is that the rather juvenile Scott and Rudd do some rather juvenile things and end up in front of a judge. The sentence is community service, to be filled in a “bigger brother” type organization.

I’m pretty sure–I hope!–this never actually happens, sentencing people who act like idiots to be mentors to children. But, hey, it’s a vehicle, and the first part of the movie is really carried by the not-nearly used enough Jane Lynch.

Doing a classic “reformed drug addict, now responsible but compelled to share uncomfortable details at every turn” bit, she rides the boys asses (even when they’re being relatively good), much the way she did in 40-Year Old Virgin.

Rudd is paired up with a nerdy LARPer whose parents don’t understand him, and in fact demean him even when they’re trying not to. Scott is paired up with a sassy black kid, as if Gary Coleman had been raised on hip-hop and porn. Scott is a womanizing frat-party regular–what you might imagine Stiffler to grow up to being, while Rudd is on the verge of losing perennial girlfriend Elizabeth Banks.

Knox will be happy at least that this time Banks is paired up with the reasonably good-looking, clean-cut Rudd instead of the slovenly, unshaven Seth Rogan.

You know how this plays out, right? Our Peter-Pan-esque boys actually get involved and start caring about their wards, only to screw up at the end of the second act and have to fight for honor, even at great personal risk to themselves.

I mean, seriously, how else is it going to play out? They continue their reckless ways and get the kids killed? Come on. What’s the matter with you? (OK, just once….)

The movie keeps you chuckling throughout, which may be sufficiently distracting from the parts that don’t work that well. Too, there is enough avoidance of some of the obvious subplots to make it not seem fresh, exactly, but at least not completely predictable.

The relationship between Rudd and Banks is really a pointless waste of screen time. Banks is really just a backdrop on which Rudd’s growth can occur, but the whole growth thing is pretty minor, and when contrasted with the fact that in the end she, of course, loves his new self, it’s particularly unconvincing why she would. (I like Banks a lot, but this is a pretty typical male comedy writer’s idea of women, i.e., a cardboard cutout.)

It looked early on like they might go with Scott putting down roots with his little buddy’s single mother. Thank God they didn’t go there.

LARPing gets an unexpected fair shake. I mean, personally, I’ve never met a LARPer who wasn’t totally insane, but I assume that’s just random chance. (They can’t all be nuts, can they?) At first, the movie is unsympathetic but then allows that it’s really not an unreasonable pursuit.

Rather than teach the foul-mouthed little black kid to behave, Scott teaches him how to score with the ladies. OK, that’s different.

As I noted, The Boy liked this a lot more than I did, and he is closer to the target demo than I am, so I guess they did that right. There’s a KISS theme running through the movie which is, I suppose aimed at me (and I did find it amusing), but ultimately I was sort of underwhelmed.

This currently has a whopping 7.9 on IMDB. It takes an 8.0 to break in to the all-time top 250. (Score inflation: When I started looking at IMDB 10+ years ago, the #1 movie in the top 250 was The Godfather and it had a 7.9.) I found it trite and sloppy which is something that doesn’t necessarily kill a comedy, if the gags are good.

And the gags are pretty good. So, you know, have at it.

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