I can’t help but think I’ve seen Role Models before. My reasons for thinking this isn’t because I’ve actually seen the movie before. It’s because the cast of this idiotic buddy film is the same as every other crude, idiotic comedy in the last few years (thanks for that, Judd Apatow). After awhile, all these movies just start to blend into one another . . .
Seann William Scott basically reprises his American Pie role of Stifler, just with a name change. He’s now Wheeler, a live for the moment, obsessed with boobs guy who loves his dead-end job as the mascot for Minotaur energy drink. Paul Rudd roughly redresses all his latest characters as Danny, Wheeler’s best friend and coworker, and a guy stuck spinning his wheels in the proverbial mud of life. When Danny’s girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) dumps him, he spirals further into the abyss, dragging Wheeler with him — they lose their job and very nearly their freedom. Luckily, Beth is an attorney and she manages to get their 30 day jail sentence reduced to 150 hours of community service working at a Big Brother type organization — Sturdy Wings.
Wheeler is paired with an out of control 10-year old boy named Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), who curses like a gypsy and has his own obsession with boobies. Danny gets handed Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a hopelessly dorky teenager obsessed with L.A.I.R.E. — a real-world recreation of Dungeons & Dragons — complete with foam swords and fanciful medieval wardrobes.
Armed with these scenarios and the demented stylings of Jane Lynch (she plays Gayle Sweeny, founder of Sturdy Wings), the writing team of Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino and Timothy Dowling were easily able to churn out mostly funny situations that required little thought on their part. After all, it never gets old watching a miserable guy try and understand a kid in a cape running around pretending to be a great knight. It gets even better when we see there are hundreds of people like this — all of them taking their fantasy pastime way too seriously (I especially got a kick out of King Argotron (Ken Jeong)). What does get old though is the constant barrage of cursing coming from little Ronnie. Initially the shock and awe of hearing a child curse so much was good for a laugh or two but the humor quickly drains away; it eventually led to my asking, “Why doesn’t someone just smack this kid in the face already?”
It isn’t all just shits and giggles though — there is a heartwarming side to Role Models as well. It’s the formulaic case where the teachers learn from their students — Wheeler comes to the realization he’s got a lot in common with Ronnie and that when he abandoned him at a keg party, he reinforced Ronnie’s social problems brought on by his father leaving the house; Danny stops trying to change Augie, decides to remove the stick from his own ass and let loose going so far as to join Augie in the final battle for the crown of the realm.
You’ll find that there is nothing that breaks new ground in this comedy though — you’ve seen all that Role Models has to offer in one form or another in plenty of films. Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott do work well together but I firmly believe these guys can be paired with just about anybody and manage to make even the most nonsensical buddy film amusing. For me, I figure it’s probably a good time to start the infusion of some new blood into these comedy types before they become completely stale — it’s not quite there yet, but it is definitely on the horizon.