Monday, November 17, 2008


ROLE MODELS (**1/2) was an amusing but ultimately disappointing R-rated comedy from cult-favorite filmmaker David Wain (THE TEN, THE STATE). Starring a too-glum Paul Rudd (who I normally love) and an extremely funny Sean William Scott as two losers who work as energy drink salesmen, the film attempts to wrap vulgarity with sweetness ala ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO but it doesn’t work anywhere near as well. Rudd has a cute girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks, busy this year) who dumps him because he’s a terminal bore and always unhappy. In a fit of desperation, Rudd drives his company truck (which looks like giant bull complete with nose ring) into a statue at one of the high schools where he and Scott are hawking their product. Faced with potentially doing jail time, the two guys instead enroll in a Big Brothers-type program where they bond with two kids, one of them a crude, potty-mouthed black child (the scene stealing Bobb’e J. Thompson) and the other a Live Action Role Playing uber-dork played by McLovin, I mean, Christopher Mintz-Plasse from last year’s SUPERBAD. The movie trudges along with some a few funny moments and some outrageous bits of profanity, mostly provided by the ebullient Thompson, who really seems to be enjoying the fact that he’s a little kid who’s been asked to cuss up a storm on the big screen. Throw in some gratuitous but nonetheless appealing female nudity, the lively comedic work of actress Jane Lynch (who plays the guys’ deranged boss at the Big Brothers program) and you’ve got the makings for a decent comedy that fits the bill as good-enough, rainy-day weekend fun. But it falls well short of the two major comedic landmarks from 2008, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and TROPIC THUNDER. Rudd’s character is so sour that he’s borderline unlikable, until the last 20 minutes of the movie. This is a shame because he’s one of the most likable screen presences in major studio comedies currently working. But Scott is proving, in films as varied as SOUTHLAND TALES and this one, that he’s an underrated actor who typically has something up his sleeve. ROLE MODELS had a solid premise but the work done by the four credited writers (Rudd included) feels too familiar and predictable to register as anything other than merely adequate. It’s worth a Netlfix.

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