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Review: Role Models

With low aspirations come low expectations comes modest surprise, at least in the case of Role Models.

Role Models
Photo: Universal Pictures

With low aspirations come low expectations comes modest surprise, at least in the case of Role Models, an empty-headed effort from director David Wain that generates some decent comedic energy from inspired potty-mouthed wit. Though his film stars Paul Rudd (who also gets a writing co-credit) and the former McLovin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Wain doesn’t mimic Judd Apatow’s sweet-and-smutty recipe. Instead, he goes strictly for the filth via his tale of unhappy, misanthropic Danny (Rudd) and doofy sex fiend Wheeler (Seann William Scott), co-workers who, thanks to a Danny freakout, lose their morally reprehensible gig peddling Minotaur energy drinks to school systems (under the guise “Stay off drugs!”) and are court-ordered to serve 150 hours of community service as big brothers to kids. Danny is saddled with fantasy role-playing geek Augie (Mintz-Plasse) and Wheeler is paired with obscenity-loving moppet Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), and what follows is profuse inappropriate profanity—from kids to adults, from adults to kids, and from adults to other adults. Wain’s story is in search of nothing except the next ribald one-liner and, mercifully, the good slightly outweigh the lame, with Rudd and Scott forming a suitably well-matched duo—one glum, miserable and droll, the other upbeat, horny and dumb—and the script filled out with amusingly stupid homoerotic turns of phrase (sample, during a play swordfight: “Come, let us gingerly touch our tips!”) and Jane Lynch’s brilliantly tasteless handling of a bacon-dog. Role Models’s narrative about men learning to grow up is merely a conventional frame used to support a litany of penis and boob-centric jokes, yet its lack of pretense and desire to emotionally engage us also refreshingly frees it from the confines of good taste. Which means that, while no one will mistake Wain’s standard-issue R-rated comedy for his smart, subversive Wet Hot American Summer, that doesn’t mean Wheeler convincing Ronnie of KISS’s greatness by introducing him to “Love Gun” (“You see, Ronnie, his dick is the gun!”) isn’t still hilarious.

Cast: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Ken Marino, Nicole Randall Johnson, A.D. Miles, Joe Lo Truglio Director: David Wain Screenwriter: Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino, Timothy Dowling Distributor: Universal Pictures Running Time: 99 min Rating: R Year: 2008 Buy: Video

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