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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

Role Models: Perfect Cast in Perfect Roles

The latest in a seemingly endless stream of R-rated comedies is "Role Models".  Starring Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, "Role Models" provides viewers with an Apatowian humor and sentimentality hybrid that has been a box office success since 2005's "The 40-year-old Virgin".  It's the story of two co-workers who are forced to volunteer their time in a big-brother, big-sister type agency to avoid jail time, after an energy-drink-filled accident on the job.  Danny (Rudd), a bitter cynic, and Wheeler (Scott), a careless party boy, are then stuck with two of the most difficult prospects the Sturdy Wings program has to offer.  Augie (Mintz-Plasse), a teenager who is obsessed with live action role playing, and Ronnie (Bobb'e Thompson), a foul mouthed little boy who is obsessed with a certain characteristic of the female anatomy. The interactions between these four characters are the core of the film: each characters humor relevant to their personality.  Even the supporting cast is memorable. Jane Lynch plays an ex-cocaine addict that founded Sturdy Wings and gives the two leads a lot of trouble while reasserting her dominance through absurd dialogue. Elizabeth Banks, who has so far this year played both the first lady, and an aspiring porn star, plays Danny's frustrated girlfriend. The film's dialogue, particularly lines delivered by Rudd and Thompson, also gives the public many quotable moments such as the "whispering eye." Though the story starts with the four characters at odds with each other, it culminates in a sentimental fashion where they gain mutual respect and resolve their problems successfully. The whole film, scattered with humor throughout, finally reaches it's pinnacle moment in a scene that can simply be described as epic.  It's as though every moment in the film built up to this last scene and the payoff is grand pulling from the entire story to create a truly memorable finale.  This film is quite the stepping stone for all the actors involved. It was truly surprising to see Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott, usually accomplices in other films, carry the entirety of this story successfully. It is hard to imagine any other actors finding so much success in these roles. Their winning performances in "Role Models" will perhaps lead to more films for them in leading roles. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also excels in the role he was born to play.  He is the perfect pale, scrawny kid with a lisp, and his acting is top notch.  Ronnie (Thompson) too no doubt has a future in comedy. His slapping and cursing at immature man-children would be delightful in a reprise of Ronnie in a future feature.  The film is neither directed nor produced by the comedy guru Judd Apatow, but it resembles his technique quite significantly. The casting reflects strongly on the direction of the film and each actor plays an all too familiar role but that's what makes "Role Models" work so well.  The jokes are fresh, the references charming, and the payoff is grand.  The actors may play the characters that they have always been known for, but they do it successfully and entertainingly.  With a strong supporting cast and an even stronger chemistry between the four main characters the film works.  It works, and it's funny, and the final payoff is legendary.