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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.82%
Worth A Look56.82%
Just Average: 27.27%
Pretty Crappy: 6.82%
Sucks: 2.27%

5 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Role Models
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by Eugene Novikov

"Rude and funny, but the sappiness is unbecoming."
3 stars

To some degree, I'm tempted to just point you to my review of Zack and Miri Make a Porno from last week. I fear I may repeat myself. ROLE MODELS continues the trend of R-rated comedies mixing serious don't-bring-grandma vulgarity with totally unironic, all-stops-out sweetness and sentimentality. Role Models isn't quite as dirty as Zack and Miri, but it's at least as earnest and manipulative. And again the mix is jarring, uneasy, unconvincing.

It's not that it can't be done. After all, the Apatow surge is built on the concept of giving very R-rated material a softer edge. It's that it takes more skill than either Kevin Smith or Role Models director David Wain (the man behind cult hit Wet Hot American Summer and cult curiosity The Ten) can muster. Team Apatow's genius, I think, is that they rarely indulge in broad comic "set pieces" -- the raunch seems, somehow, to arise organically from the story. And so it seems better integrated into their gentle plots. Role Models instead toggles modes -- from mean to sweet, from hyper-ironic to cloyingly sincere. At its core, the film is about a man learning to move past his cynicism, so I suppose one could justify the spasmodic tone that way. But it doesn't make for a smooth viewing experience. The last fifteen minutes could have come from a children's film.

What more or less pulls us through, here as in Zack and Miri, are the people. Role Models is full of spectacularly funny individuals -- actors you want to spend time with. If I told you this was a movie about two overgrown frat boys who are forced to mentor two misfit kids, your eyes would start to glaze over. If I added that the overgrown frat boys are played by Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd, you might think twice. Also on hand are the inimitable Jane Lynch in top non sequitur form, Superbad's Christopher Mintz-Plasse as one of the unfortunate mentees, and Elizabeth Banks, bringing effortless charm to one of her more straightforward roles as The Girlfriend.

One problem is that the film is peculiarly distractable. At one point, in depicting Mintz-Plasse's Augie as a hopeless nerd, it hits upon the notion that he enjoys Live Action Role Playing -- dressing up in costumes, taking up plastic swords, and enacting fantasy scenarios. The amount of time it subsequently spends on this is staggering. The protracted climax is one long role play, as the film operates on the mistaken assumption that we care about the game's substantive outcome. We care, to some degree, about whether Rudd's jaded, too-cool-for-the-room Danny swallows his pride and comes to Augie's aid, and whether Augie can summon the courage to start a conversation with the only pretty role-playing girl in the state. But that doesn't mean we want to watch fifteen minutes of fake swordfighting. What an odd move.

The movie spends so much time screwing around that when it ultimately hits us with an onslaught of conventional sentimentality, the effect is bewildering. Big emotional payoffs have to be set up; they can't just materialize out of thin air. The ending -- the whole third act, really -- pushes so hard that I'm convinced the studio had a hand in it.

Still, funny is funny, and Role Models does offer plenty. Rudd's nasty tirade to an unassuming barista about the absurdity of insisting on "venti" instead of "large" is hilarious because it's true -- and because Rudd delivers it with such righteous conviction. Jane Lynch's speech about her old eating habits (mostly she ate cocaine) is another highlight. Christopher Mintz-Plasse mostly has one note, but it's a good one. There are a lot of laughs. Maybe the movie should have contented itself with that.

(Reprinted from filmblather.com)

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17558&reviewer=419
originally posted: 11/07/08 02:08:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2008 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2008 series, click here.

User Comments

5/25/09 peter not very funny. just about mclovin's fantasy world. dumb 2 stars
4/25/09 Monday Morning This movie sucks. Badly. 2 stars
3/17/09 ES So many laughs plus a respectable salute to both LARP and hills shaped like breasts 4 stars
3/13/09 action movie fan bobb,e thomson was very good but the rest were mediocre-film not that funny 2 stars
12/24/08 Justin I usually hate Stiffler but I thought he was good in this one. 4 stars
12/20/08 Bailey Excellent job on the casting. Good laughs all the way through - finale was awesome. 4 stars
11/23/08 George Barksdale Haven't had a good laugh at a movie in a long time, very funny 4 stars
11/19/08 Colleen H I was sobbing from laughter. Juvenile, but screaming funny. 5 stars
11/11/08 Koitus Harsh language through-out; but very funny. A few "classic" scenes (stinky-pinky for one)! 4 stars
11/09/08 Susan funny movie if only for paul rudd. seann william scott isn't as funny with his usual schtic 4 stars
11/09/08 Samantha Pruitt REALLY funny, had me laughing through the whole movie, Ronnie and McLovin are hilarious!!! 5 stars
11/09/08 stephen goodridge mclovin was awesome 5 stars
11/09/08 Brian Mckay Predictable, yet Fucking Hilarious. 4 stars
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  07-Nov-2008 (R)
  DVD: 10-Mar-2009


  DVD: 10-Mar-2009

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