Role Models is a film I wanted to see at the cinema back in January (2009) when it came out, but never got the chance. However, as it’s just come out on DVD (2009), I finally got to see it last night. First off, you would be forgiven for thinking this film had been written, directed or produced by Judd Apatow due to the cast being full of his regular collaborators. But, in fact, it’s just a sign of how good he is at picking talented actors who have gone off on their own to make other great comedies.
The line-up includes Apatow stalwarts Jane Lynch and Paul Rudd in the lead (Paul also co-wrote the film), as well as Superbad actors Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Joe Lo Truglio, Knocked Up actor Ken Jeong, and 40 Year Old Virgin actress Elizabeth Banks, who was also in the recent Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno in which she took the lead.
The film even has a few Reno 911 actors in some of the supporting roles, and a small cameo by Jorma Taccone from Saturday Night Live and his comedy singing trio of The Lonely Island fame. But the real stars of the movie are Paul Rudd, as already mentioned, and Seann William Scott who must be loving life as he just gets to make one great comedy after another since his breakthrough performance in American Pie way back in 1999.
Role Models follows the lives of two friends and co-workers, Danny (Rudd) and Wheeler (Scott), who are salesmen for a fictional energy drink called Minotaur. Their mundane lives revolve around travelling from school to school to talk to kids about not using drugs, while at the same time pushing their own drugs in the form of energy drinks. This sets the scene to reveal that Wheeler loves his life and his job while Danny, who celebrates his 10 year anniversary in the job early on in the film, is constantly disillusioned with his life and lack of success.
This leads to the break-up of his relationship with Beth (Elizabeth Banks), who can’t take his negative outlook on life any more. The break-up results in his public meltdown during a talk with a school group and ends up with Wheeler also getting caught up in the mess. Before you know it they have crashed their car into a statue of a horse outside the school. Luckily for them they manage to avoid going to jail for 30 days and instead are given 150 hours of community service, acting as ‘big brothers’ at a local kids program called Sturdy Wings. The rest of the movie follows Danny and Wheeler as they help their young charges in their unstable lives while, at the same time, the young ones help their ‘big brothers’ with the issues that surround them.
I saw the unrated version of the film and felt the more full-on scenes were kind of out of place. Not necessarily out of place with the type of humour, but to me they felt more like concept scenes which the producers thought were funny and had put in to push the boundaries of good taste, but in reality didn’t really add much to what was going on.
In fact it got to the point where I thought I may have enjoyed the rated version more as I’m sure its structure would have worked better. This isn’t to say I didn’t love the film, but there really are some random scenes dotted throughout it. The acting was great and there was a standout performance from the ‘potty mouth’ young charge, Ronnie (Bobb’e J Thompson), who is guided by William Scott’s character.
He was 12 during the making of the film but made his debut as a 5 year old doing an amazing rap cover of a Lil Bow Wow song, which I remember seeing on the news years ago. The talent he showed as a 5 year old shines through in more than one scene-stealing performance in Role Models.
All up I really enjoyed this film, and it was pretty solid the whole way through, apart from the few dead patches mentioned above with random scenes thrown in. But if you’re looking for a good film to spend 90 minutes laughing, then this will do nicely.
8 out of 10 from me.