As with his past two efforts, Wain's latest is top-lined by the invaluable Paul Rudd, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Wain. He plays Danny, a spokesperson for Minotaur Energy Drink who spends his days telling teenagers not to do drugs with a fluffy Minotaur dancing behind him. Inside that jolly Minotaur costume is Wheeler (Seann William Scott), a co-worker who wants nothing more than to be Dan's friend and get laid. This comes as a surprise as it seems that Danny has no friends save for his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks), and even she is beginning to tire of his wasting-my-life hissy fits. It's when Beth breaks it off that Dan loses it and tells a cafeteria filled with teenagers how awesome drugs are and how life sucks. That's before he mounts the Minotaur Mobile upon a statue of a horse.
Both Dan and Wheeler are offered some time in jail or 150 days of community service at Sturdy Wings, a Big Brother proxy run by an ex-con (Jane Lynch) with a love for cautionary tales about her days as a coke addict. She also has a psycho-sexual obsession with bagel dogs. Danny gets stuck with Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad fame) while Wheeler becomes ward to Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson). Augie has an obsession with a Lord of the Rings-lite role-playing game; Ronnie has an obsession with breasts.
As much as low expectations are built into films like this, Role Models unexpectedly overcomes its tepid veneer, often flying into propulsive bouts of comedic energy. Scott, who has always been just a little underrated, shows good chemistry with both Rudd and Banks but he seems to have found his perfect foil with Thompson. How else could a pairing like this start but with Ronnie showing Wheeler a crayon drawing of Beyonce pouring sugar on his penis? Watching Wheeler explain that Kiss' "Love Gun" is really about Paul Stanley's member is only topped by a stroll in the woods where Ronnie observes Wheeler's Jedi-like ability to spot breasts.
Rudd and Mintz-Plasse are less bawdy but have a subtle comedic rapport with one another. Hinged to the film's most sentimental storylines, they are given the dull task of holding up the film's plot while Scott and Thompson are allowed off the leash. That doesn't mean there's not time for a joke about Dan calling Beth's vagina a "whispering eye" nor that the climactic role-play battle royale isn't a brazenly funny dig at both fantasy and war films through the ages.
Wain is smart enough not to play it all as B-grade Apatow, although he has a similar acting entourage that includes Ken Marino, who co-wrote the script, Joe Lo Truglio, and Reno 911!'s Kerri Kenney. Unlike the majority of comedy directors, Wain allows for the humor to play out with minimal token scenes. Proudly irrelevant and inconsequential as it is, Role Models is buoyant and funny and has enough sense not to take itself seriously.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th November 2008
Box Office USA: $67.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $92.4M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Internationale Filmproduktion Stella-del-Süd
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 122 Rotten: 36
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: David Wain
Producer: Luke Greenfield, Mary Parent, Matthew Seigel, Scott Stuber
Starring: Seann William Scott as Wheeler, Paul Rudd as Danny Donahue, Elizabeth Banks as Beth, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Augie Farks, Bobb'e J. Thompson as Ronnie Shields, Jane Lynch as Gayle Sweeny, Ken Jeong as King Argotron, Amanda Righetti as Isabel, Joe Lo Truglio as Kuzzik, Ken Marino as Jim Stansel, Kerri Kenney-Silver as Lynette, A.D. Miles as Martin, Matt Walsh as Davith of Glencracken, Nicole Randall Johnson as Karen, Allie Stamler as Esplen, Carly Craig as Connie, Jessica Morris as Linda the Teacher, Vincent Martella as Artonius, Jorma Taccone as Mitch from Graphics, Nate Hartley as Rule Master, David Wain as Chevron Baine, Louis C.K. as Security Guard, Keegan-Michael Key as Duane