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Role Models

Movie title: Role Models (2008)
Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars) Recommended!
Rated: R
Director: David Wain
Producers: Luke Greenfield, (Exec.) Dan Kolsrud, Mary Parent, Matthew Seigel, (Exec.) William Sherak, (Exec.) Jason Shuman, Scott Stuber
Starring: Seann William Scott “Wheeler,” Paul Rudd “Danny Donahue,” Christopher Mintz-Plasse “Augie Farks,” Bobb'e J. Thompson “Ronnie Shields,” Elizabeth Banks “Beth,” Jane Lynch “Gayle Sweeny,” Ken Jeong “King Argotron,” Ken Marino “Jim Stansel,” Kerri Kennel “Lynette,” A.D. Miles “Martin Gary”
Genre: Comedy
Summation: Two energy drink salesman are forced to be mentors due to a run-in with the law.
Spoilers ahead: No

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Once in a while, a comedy comes along that refreshes your sense of being. Raising your eyebrows in a sudden stupefaction, you think while watching it: “Oh, that’s brilliant!” There comes a point when, out of frustration, you begin to suspect that good comedies are not what they used to be, that perhaps you are getting old and are no longer able to laugh at the funny stuff like you did as a kid. You’re too discerning and too mature to enjoy life, you think. And then the right film comes along and (thankfully) blows that notion out of the water.

Role Models is one such film. In it, Paul Ludd “Danny Donahue,” Seann William Scott “Wheeler,” Christopher Mintz-Plasse “Augie Farks,” and Jane Lynch “Gayle Sweeney” come together to put on four of the funniest performances of 2008. From start to finish, Role Models provides a nearly constant flow of comedy that doesn’t disappoint. You’ll never be bored and you’ll fall right in love with every character, and with a plot flowing with milk and honey.

Here, even the “lesser” characters have big parts and the obnoxious odor of big-name actor exaltation isn’t to be found. You come to love everyone, and in a sense, everyone is a star. Among the main character super performances was that of Jane Lynch. I liked her better here than in 40-Year-Old Virgin (where she was darn funny). Make no mistake about it; she made Role Models what it is!

The steadily sarcastic tone makes an already funny film even funnier. Paul Rudd’s bone-dry delivery of lines and his character’s continual dissatisfaction with life contrasts him with his feather-headed friend, “Wheeler,” the optimistic girl-getting go-getter who loves his go-nowhere job of being an energy drink salesman alongside his disappointed partner.

The two come in contact with Gayle Sweeney when they have a run-in with the law and are court-ordered to do 150 hours of community service with a mentor organization known as Sturdy Wings. The organization has its own Ned Flanders in the character of A.D. Miles, “Martin Gary,” a veteran five-year role model from Sturdy Wings whose gayishly goofy and stiff peculiarities add yet more to the plot.

Yes, Role Models is extremely raunchy, dirty, and crude. So, no, it’s not something you want to watch with Aunt Jo who’s just going into her golden years. But it’s oh-so-funny and comes with a welcomed level of predictability.

And it’s not only funny, but teaches one big moral lesson concerning the importance of role models: one should be permitted and encouraged to pursue their passions, whatever those passions happen to be and however different they may be from our own. Moral support is a great asset, but too often, just doesn’t come from those closest to us who love us and want the best for us.

That’s what the film is about, but unlike so many pathetically preachy movies that mount up only to miss the mark, Role Models isn’t preachy. It’s just powerful, and the quality and competency of the directing is undeniable.

The screen-by-screen elements of humor vary, many of which consist of jabs at the dorkiness of fantasy role-playing gamers (yes, the Dungeons & Dragons crowd). These jabs are fabulously funny, right up until the last segment of the film where the gamers’ big battle runs way too long. By then, the played-upon antics become too much and lose their savor.

Having fewer scenes of Styrofoam swordfights between geeks would have helped. Hemming in the rambunctiously happy ending where nearly everyone in the entire movie drops what they are doing just to get together at a goonish gaming tournament would have been a good idea as well. These considerations knock a potentially four star movie down to a three-and-a-half-er, but still, Role Models will hold its own in humor with anything out there.

(JH)

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