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Old 11-20-2008, 08:43 AM Offline   #1 (permalink)



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Forced to join a mentorship program, two irresponsible men must help a pair of impressionable boys navigate the troubled waters of youth.



The premise is completely formulaic and potentially cheesy. A couple of go-nowhere buddies get arrested and, for their community work assignment, must serve as big brothers to a pair of misfit kids.

You know from the beginning that many necessary life lessons will be learned and that all parties involved ultimately will be better off for the unlikely friendships they've formed. Whittled down to 30 minutes, this could have been a very special episode of "Diff'rent Strokes." But it's the wildly, hilariously crude way that director David Wain and Co. approach this concept that makes "Role Models" so disarming.

The rampant wrongness would have been amusing enough on the page: preadolescents spewing obscenities, jokes about bad touching and children being exposed to nudity on a supposedly wholesome camping trip. But the delivery from co-stars Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd and the supporting cast of both comedy veterans and up-and-comers makes the material consistently laugh-out-loud funny. Wain, who directed "Wet Hot American Summer" and "The Ten," reunites with several members of the defunct MTV sketch comedy show "The State," including Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio and Kerry Kenney-Silver, and there's a comfort in the familiarity of the weirdness.

Wain and Rudd are among a half-dozen people who get screenplay and/or story-by credit here. Scott and Rudd are at the film's core, though, and their disparate styles provide an appealing mix; Scott again plays the manic ladies' man with no internal censor, while the typically deadpan Rudd is always ready with a sardonic one-liner. (His evisceration of an unsuspecting coffee house employee is a standout moment.)

Scott's Wheeler and Rudd's Danny spend their days giving peppy, just-say-no talks at Los Angeles schools and peddling the energy drink Minotaur, a job that requires Wheeler to dress up in a furry costume and guzzle gallons of green gunk.
Danny, fed up with his life and frustrated that his longtime girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) has just rejected his impetuous and ill-timed marriage proposal, snaps one day and gets himself and Wheeler in trouble with the law. (Banks, who has shown her versatility lately with "W." and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," goes to waste here as the straight woman.)

Rather than going to jail, the two end up working with the Sturdy Wings mentoring group, led by the damaged but overly earnest Gayle (Jane Lynch, stealing every scene she's in, as usual): "I used to be addicted to pills," she explains in one of her many cringe-inducing lines. "Now, I'm addicted to helping."

Wheeler gets paired up with the freakishly foul-mouthed Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson, radiating a scary amount of confidence for a 12-year-old), who's been raised by a single mom his whole young life. No previous big brother has stuck around for more than a day but, rather than feeling daunted by this petulant brat, Wheeler views Ronnie as a personal challenge.

Danny, meanwhile, gets stuck with the uber-dweeby teen Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, doing a more vulnerable variation on his "Superbad" character, McLovin), who's obsessed with his live-action fantasy role-playing game. Augie is part of Sturdy Wings at his parents' insistence: They want him to be a normal kid. Of course, we'll all come to the conclusion that Augie is just fine the way he is, but the journey there includes a truly awkward dinner with Augie's folks, some elaborate sword-and-sorcery play in the park with a group of delusional grown-ups and an inspired use of KISS.

This is the kind of movie in which an adult and a child can bond over the not-so-subtle metaphor contained within the song "Love Gun." Inappropriate? For sure. But also kind of sweet - and a model for comedies that are trying to strike that elusive balance.
 
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:57 PM Offline   #2 (permalink)



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I was surprised at how funny this movie actually was.
 
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