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Great cast makes 'Models' work

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unlike some movies in theaters right now ("High School Musical 3: Senior Year" and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" come to mind), "Role Models" makes it easy for all ages to find characters to identify with. Beyond that, David Wain's new comedy is just plain good.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Of course, with the cast Wain had to work with, he would have pretty much had to purposely sabotage shooting to produce a poor film.

The story, written by Wain and Paul Rudd, centers around Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny (Rudd). The two 30-somethings work for an energy drink company called Minotaur; they go to high schools and tell kids to say no to drugs and "drink Minotaur!"

Wheeler, who dons the Minotaur costume at each gig, couldn't be more pumped about the state of his life. Danny, who handles the actual speaking at the schools they go to, is conversely depressed about the fact that he's wasted the last decade pimping "poison" to kids. An exclamation point is put on that thought when he and Wheeler have their urine turn an anti-freeze shade of green.

Things seemingly hit rock bottom for Danny when his whimsical proposal to his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) is answered with a breakup. He takes a shovel, though, and digs down even deeper than rock bottom when he opts not to let a tow-truck take the company truck away. Danny and Wheeler are then told by a lawyer that they can avoid jail if they successfully complete 150 hours of community service.

Enter Sturdy Wings (think Big Brother program). Sturdy Wings brings three important things into the world of "Role Models."

First, there is the company's director Gayle (Jane Lynch), a woman very fond of describing rather vividly her past as a drug addict. Lynch, who you'll no doubt recognize from films like "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Best in Show," is a hoot. She is constantly twisting her mouth into a sarcastic sneer as she deals with Danny and Wheeler, whom she is positive are trying to make a mockery of her. She is the star of every scene she's in, even when sharing the screen with Rudd and Scott.

Second and third are the two young actors who play the kids to whom Danny and Wheeler are assigned. Christopher Mintz-Plasse will probably forever be known as McLovin from "Superbad," but here he is Augie. Augie, by the way, is every bit as dorky as McLovin was. Bobb'e J. Thompson plays Ronnie, a kid with a mouth so dirty it'd make Quentin Tarantino blush. Both actors have obvious talent, and both at least hold their own with Rudd and Scott.

I could go on even further about the cast, but you get the idea.

The truth is that I found myself laughing out loud, maybe even too heartily if I'm judging from the looks I got from the old lady sitting near me, several times. The script is good, and the cast makes it better than good. Rudd and Scott carry the film so well that even the alarmingly cheesy and contrived ending between Danny and Beth is tolerable.

Really, I had but one problem with "Role Models." It's one that you'll either accept and roll with, or one you'll allow to sour the entire 90 minutes. Thompson, who is 8 years old, truly is shocking with the profanity that comes out of his mouth. It's initially disconcerting. Forget that he's 8, however, and his dialogue is funny.

I'd advise you to roll with Ronnie's dirty mouth; it'd be a shame to deny yourself one of the better comedies to hit the big screen in quite some time.

• Check out Chester Carson's movie blog at www.juneaublogger.com/movies.



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