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Nov 19, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Role Models

"Fezzik, are there spoilers ahead?"

"If there are, we'll all be dead!"

(Perhaps that isn't the best warning. Then again, there were rocks ahead, and neither Fezzik nor Inigo died. Anyway, on to the review.)

Role Models is the kind of movie that I want to hate. I really do. Before it's five minutes in, you already know how the story will generally go. Loosey-goosey fun guy Wheeler (Seann William Scott) will grow up a bit. Bitchy pessimist Danny, who has managed to scare off even his girlfriend of seven years, will learn that there's more to life than hating the phrases people use or the way they use them. Foul-mouthed, absentee-fathered 11-year old Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson) will see that maybe all men aren't like his MIA bio-dad and that maybe all white folks aren't Ben Affleck. And Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) will find out that it's okay to be different so long as that's what makes you happy, regardless of what your idiot parents think.

All this and much more is telegraphed and should barely count as spoilers. The real spoiler lies in why I didn't end up hating Role Models, and actually came out liking it a lot. Sure, it has an "After School Special" plot and heartwarming moments galore. But it also has the key elements that made me love James Franco in Pineapple Express and gave a bit of redemption at the end of the lackluster Step Brothers: a commitment to absurdist comedy and unabashed love for losers.

It's easy to laugh at the pint-sized Thompson shouting various forms of the F-word at his "Big" (Scott) while calling Rudd "Reindeer Games" (again, the Affleck thing). And it's easy for us to laugh, at first glance, as the former McLovin goes through his dorky Dungeons & Dragons choreographed swordplay scene, complete with his own cheesy dialogue and soundtrack - heck, he might as well be re-creating the infamous Star Wars Kid YouTube video). It's another thing altogether, though, when the four principals show up to a live-action D&D-style battle in full KISS regalia, wigs, makeup and all, complete with Jane Lynch playing a character with no dignity (a specialty of hers). And, really, as good as the four leads are, it's the performances of such future FF-UNs as Ken Jeong (who's really led an interesting life; read more here) and Joe Lo Truglio, as well as Fletch favorite Matt Walsh (of Upright Citizens' Brigade fame) that really made the movie for me. Their dedication to their goofy roles, and the had-to-be-improvised touches that these vets brought to their mostly-one-dimensional roles turned what could have been a groaner of a movie into a bit of a riot.

No, it's not The 40 Year Old Virgin, and it's not Drillbit Taylor, which it unfortunately reminded me of at times - it sits somewhere in the middle, as a funny-but-mostly-unoriginal comedy that will likely be forgotten about until it's playing on an endless loop on basic cable, where it will pick up the get the love it deserves. Just like its two young stars.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"


6 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Role Models"

Dead Pan said...

I think it is closer to 40 year old virgin than Drillbit. I agree that the formula is pretty stale, and I think the central romance could have been cut out completely and the film would have worked just as well. The thing that really struck me is the writing. Though the plot is stale the way in which they tie everything together is perfect. Throw away things like Wheeler's KISS love and Augie's LAIRE love come together seamlessly. Not to mention the "I don't sing in front of people" line and in the end he does so, with a KISS song no less.

So I guess I agree with you totally. And when this film is on cable constantly I will probably watch it every single time.

Farzan said...

Movie was great, enjoyed every minute of it. Very funny compared to some of the other comedy films that came out this year

Reel Whore said...

Role Models ranks high on my 2008 comedy list. Sometimes it's nice to have an obvious plot so you can just roll with the jokes. I liked that each of the four had a moment to shine as did many of their supporters (Walsh, Jeong).

I've been disappointed with Pineapple Express, StepBrothers, Drillbit, and so on this year, but RM surprised me.

Sarah said...

I actually did enjoy this movie, much to my chagrin. I think the credit goes to Paul Rudd, Sean Williams Scott, their young charges and (especially) to their supporting cast more than to the so-so script.

I agree with the Whore -- "Role Models" was better than "Pineapple Express" but nearly not as good as Apatow's best.

Nick said...

Finally saw this tonight. Review will be up tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Role Models Is Great Movie.I REally Enjoyed this Movie. Director David Wain (WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER) capably mixes the saucy and the sentimental in the bawdy boys-to-men comedy ROLE MODELS. Stuck-in-a-rut Danny Donahue (Paul Rudd) and womanizing...
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