21 November 2008

Film: "Role Models"

Role Models
Directed by David Wain

Story by Timothy Bowling & William Blake Herron
Screenplay by Paul Rudd & David Wain & Ken Marino
Starring: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch and Elizabeth Banks
Theatrical Release Date: 7 November 2008
Date of Screening: 21 November 2008
MPAA Rating: R (For Crude and Sexual Content, Strong Language and Nudity)


I forget who, but one movie mogul insisted years ago that he would only listen to story ideas that were concise enough to be written on the back of a business card.  Role Models fits that criteria: Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are court-ordered participants in a mentoring program with misfits--that's the entire premise of the film.  Because of the simplicity of the plot (and the track record of the lead actors), it's easy to enter the film with virtually no expectations beyond laughing periodically.


Paul Rudd's Danny Donahue starts the film at his tenth anniversary in a job he hates, working with Seann William Scott's Wheeler, who adores the freedom the job affords his partying lifestyle.  As Danny's early-mid-life crisis mounts, he decides to propose to his girlfriend who responds by breaking up with him and moving out of their house.  One comedic set-up after another ensues and voila!  Danny and Wheeler are compelled to participate in a program bonding with young boys who, naturally, have their own issues.  Bobb'e J. Thompson's Ronnie Shields has a chip on his shoulder and a particularly vulgar mouth--he, of course, steals every scene he has.

The standout of the entire production is Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who absolutely shines as the nerd Augie Farks.  Augie isn't "real" enough for his mother and stepfather, and they ridicule his fantasy interests every chance they get.  His role playing becomes the backbone of the film's plot, uniting the four characters's threads.  While Danny is pleading with his girlfriend's voicemail to meet with him, Augie insists that he tell her he misses her "silent eye," which Danny does.  As soon as Danny is off the phone, Mintz-Plasse completely breaks up laughing, "It means 'vagina'!" which he repeats several times, finding it funnier each time.  It's terribly absurd, and that's what makes it brilliant.


I entered the film less than two weeks from my thirtieth birthday, and Danny's arc particularly struck me.  I found myself identifying with Paul Rudd's portrayal of Pete in Knocked Up, and again this time out.  As an actor, he does a great job with his eyes of conveying the frustration of someone who has a lot to say about something, but is too apathetic to find it worth the trouble to even speak up half the time.  I know that frustration and apathy, and I suspect I'm not alone.


The bottom line is that you should come for the obvious comedic value and stay for the completely over-the-top climax.  Other films might concern themselves with taking a stand on the issues of the manchild; Role Models is content to explore the fun of being one.

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