Role Models did not, at first glance, look like a good bet for a movie (at least to me!). It starred Seann William Scott, was a ribald comedy about men who needed to grow up and had no less than four screenwriters on the credits – generally the sure signs of a stinker.
However, two of the other writers were Paul Rudd and a chap called David Wain, who also directed it. Having good memories of David Wain (he delivered an entertaining talk at the AFF), I decided to give this film the benefit of the doubt. And in fact, this is a highly entertaining and well-written comedy.
Danny (Rudd) and Wheeler (Scott) are two energy drink salesmen who are merely going through the motions job-wise. While Wheeler is a happy-go-lucky womaniser, however, Danny is a bitter misanthrope who is in a permanent bad mood. His bad mood eventually leads to him losing his lawyer girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) and Wheeler and him getting in trouble for vandalism. They face two choices: jail or 30 days community service at Sturdy Wings, a child-mentoring service.
Of course, you don’t have to be a fortune-teller to predict that they are going to be paired with the kids from hell. Danny is landed with role-playing fanatic Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad), while Wheeler tries to keep up with foul-mouthed ten year old Ronnie. Very soon they are both wishing they had opted for jail, with Augie dragging Danny to his interminable medieval battle recreations (hilariously done) and Ronnie stealing Wheeler’s car and generally being a little monster.
I think Scott is a bit of a one-trick pony, and on this viewing so is Mintz-Plasse. Neither of them manage to break out of their respective stereotyped parts and Scott in particular is getting a bit old to be doing the frat-boy act. Paul Rudd, however, is brilliant as Danny and manages to go from being a thoroughly glum bastard at the start to a better human being at the end without being corny. The main weak link is Elizabeth Banks, who is saddled with a part so under-written that I forgot several times that she was in it. The girl can do so much better – give her a good part! Luckily the female corner is well fought by Jane Lynch, the mentoring counsellor who used to eat cocaine for breakfast, lunch (and dinner). She more than holds her own against the two male leads and is probably the character you will remember long after you’ve forgotten the rest of the movie.
Go to see Role Models if you’re after some good, undemanding laughs and enjoy watching Seann William Scott getting tormented by a small boy (and who doesn’t?).