Role Models

Director    David Wain
Starring    Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch
Release    7 NOV (US) 9 JAN (UK)    Certificate 15
4 stars


10th January 2009

Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott (y'know, Stifler) are two of the most underrated comic actors in the business; they've both been plugging away for years but always seem to get saddled with thankless roles in shitty films (Over Her Dead Body, Dukes Of Hazzard etc). Surviving on the bottom rungs of the comedy ladder, their only real choice roles come from salvaging scraps from more successful friends' tables. If there's any justice, Role Models will see them propelled to the status of comedy Gods.

On paper, Role Models has average written all over it. Misanthrope Danny (Rudd) and horn-dog Wheeler (Scott) are two directionless wasters who make a living as energy-drink spokesmen, selling "nuclear-powered horse piss" to uninterested school-kids. When the pair try and outwit a tow-truck, they wind up serving community service, looking after two wayward kids - D&D nerd Augie (Mintz-Plasse) and sass-mouthed black kid Ronnie - in Big Brother program Sturdy Wings. Cue awkward situations, life lessons being learned, swearing, a romance sub-plot and some bonus tits - cut, print, hurry up and laugh so we all get paid. Right?

Yet despite its predictable set-up, Role Models is never less than hilarious. Scott is fantastic as ever, but this is the Rudd effect in action - not only does his presence cause everyone else to raise their game by 20%, he wrote the screenplay too. The script is consistently brilliant, throwing up pat one-liners and foul-mouthed put-downs ("Fuck you Miss Daisy!") that pop off the page. Rudd's miser has character traits you suspect are his own: he hates meaningless coffee lingo ('venti', 'grande' etc), loathes the phrase "I hear that," and despises when people say "a-sap". When singing along to Kiss, he wants to rock and roll all night "and part of every day," because he usually has errands. You can't help but love him.

And it's a selfless script, too; no character is under-written, no matter how small they are. Jane Lynch's ex-cokehead turned kid counsellor is a riot, forever mixing her metaphors and accusing the boys of 'BS' ("You can't BS a BSer! I'm the Queen of BS!"). Bobb'e J Thompson makes for a good comic foil as Stifler's little buddy, the pair trading backtalk and boob-watching tips. Chris Mintz-Plasse (Superbad's McLovin, without the sauce) is spot on as the painfully awkward nerd of the piece, whose love of live-action role-play provides much of the humour of the movie's second half.

Even Ken Jeong as the throwaway villain of the piece is a hoot as the role-play King who insists his minions bow before him (despite the fact he prepares for battle in the local Burger Hole cafe). The final set-piece, where all the characters bear foam arms and take to faux battle is brilliant - think Lord Of The Rings with a healthy sense of its own ridiculousness. After being slain, one previously evil enemy quickly breaks character: "It is fun, huh? Come again next year! We need people! Give me your email!"

If you think Role Models looks like your standard Judd Apatow-esque lazy comedy, then... well, you'd kinda be right - it does look like that. Remember though, Apatow already made this movie - it was called Drillbit Taylor, and it sucked. Here, however, Rudd shows himself to be a talent both in front of and behind the camera, never sacrificing laughs for schmaltz - it's never any mushier than the situation deems necessary.

See it if you want to see Paul Rudd being funny without the help of Judd Apatow. See it if you want to see Stifler being Stifler, but all grown up. Hell, see it if you want to see swearing and tits. But just make sure you see it, because comedy this good deserves to be recognised - and no one wants to sit through Over Her Dead Body 2 or American Pie 4.

More:  Comedy  Role Models
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