I just got back from a test screening of ‘Role Models’ in Ann Arbor starring Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in his first role after McLovin. He was at the screening, and was actually a really funny guy when answering the weird and random post-screening questions that moist college aged girls had for him.
Anyway, the film is about two guys, Rudd and Scott, who work for an energy drink company going from school to school doing anti-drug assemblies. Rudd is grumpy about everything, and realizes his life is in a rut. He proposes to his girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) on a whim, and when she turns him down, he goes on a crazy energy drink fueled rampage. When all is said and done, Rudd and Scott face jailtime or volunteering with a Big Brothers-Big Sisters type group headed by the hilarious Jane Lynch (boss from 40 Year Old Virgin). She was one of the most memorable characters in the movie, spouting simply ridiculous lines from writers Rudd, Ken Marino, and David Wain, who also directed.
Rudd has to take care of Plasse’s character, an awkward LARPer (live action role playing for the uninformed) whose parents want nothing to do with him. Scott is stuck with Bobb’e J. Thompson, a vulgar black kid who keeps scaring off his Big Brothers (props to the kid in what I’m guessing is his first role). Through the movie we see the basic ‘disdain growing into caring between mismatched kid and grownup’ stories. I thought the plot was pretty predictable, but there were a ton of laughs.
A lot of the jokes (and a lot of the story) come from an interesting dissection of LARPing. I don’t know anything about it, but the movie shows them as huge nerds who act malicious towards other ‘countries’, but deep down all love each other. The writing is top notch, and what you would come to expect from Wain and Rudd paired together. One LARPer stuck out in my mind as especially funny – Joe Lo Truglio, the guy who hits Jonah Hill with his car in Superbad. The man gets into any role he’s playing, and you really believe that he speaks in Middle English all the time.
Another thing to note was the LARP fight choreography. Mintz-Plasse said afterwards that the guy who choreographed the Bourne films helped train the actors for this film. It showed, and the battles never came off as cheesy or fake, which is awesome considering that we were watching grown men play with foam swords.
Mintz-Plasse carried the movie in my opinion. You honestly feel bad for the kid at points (who looks like he’s about 13 in this movie), and his transformation, while expected, is fun to watch.
The one downside was that Scott and Rudd do nothing new as actors with the characters. Scott plays himself, or Stifler, the horny and over-drinking buddy. Rudd plays the sarcastic, unhappy guy we’re supposed to feel sorry for. Keep in mind though – I loved this character in Knocked Up. Here though, neither actor was especially funny, but the writing did make watching them do their thing worth it.
I don’t think this movie will review awesomely with the critics. The plot is definitely nothing new, and the main actors don’t do anything special. However, there are a lot of laughs along the way, and the little roles that don’t have top billing are the ones you should see this movie for.