Role Models

My Guild is Better Than Your Guild

Starring: Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott

By Robert Patrick

When a film begins with a statue of a horse being sexually mounted in the middle of an elementary school, I probably wont end up liking it. Fortunately for the folks at Universal, the rest of the script wasn’t about the molestation of inanimate objects, so it had a fighting shot at getting a good review. Role Models, a movie about two best friends who end up having to mentor a pair of the brattiest kids ever, was written by Paul Rudd and David Wain. 

Danny Donahue (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are scam artists who make appearances at schools, tell young adults how bad drugs are, and then sell them energy drinks. Why people in the educational community are booking them is anyone’s guess, since energy drinks are a kind of inappropriate tradeoff to smoking pot, but I doubt that’s what we’re supposed to be thinking about in a movie that is content enough to show bare breasts to a ten year-old.

Because Danny and Wheeler finally get arrested at a school assembly, they are made to serve out an 150 hour sentence at Sturdy Wings, an organization much like Big Brother, which enables children to carry out activities with a guardian like figure. Once again, not to pick apart this movie, but if you’re arrested around kids I can‘t imagine this being the smartest disciplinary decision. Nevertheless, Danny is stuck with Augie Farks (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), cinema’s bespectacled archetype of a nerd. Augie waves around a foam sword, speaks in Shakespearian tongues, and has the posture of someone with a severe case of osteoporosis. Wheeler, being dealt the same kind of horrible luck, gets signed up with Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), the most vulgar and ornery child in the Sturdy Wings program. 

The next hour and a half shows Ronnie pelting Wheeler with ketchup packets, Augie engaged in Renaissance period duels, and the two guardians tearing their hair out in the process. The comedy is mostly hit and miss, especially when Ronnie keeps dropping the f-bomb every three minutes, something the writers apparently thought was the best idea ever. As it turns out, the only way to calm Ronnie down was to mention KISS, a song about their penises, and to show him a pair of boobs. How this makes a child less energetic and more rational is beyond me, but whatever, I’m onboard.

There are subplots, completely deviating from the source material, that entail an elongated reenactment sequence of medieval warfare, a long exposition about female anatomy, and a broken relationship. How on earth these things come together and make an enjoyable comedy is beyond me – but they do. Paul Rudd’s jaded persona isn’t a far cry from his previous works, but it works well with his deadpan delivery. Seann William Scott, putting the awfulness of Mr. Woodcock behind him, also utilizes his trademark shtick to an unusually satisfying degree – that’s about all anyone wanted out of him anyway.

All in all, Role Models is probably the most forgettable comedy of the year, but it does have its moments. And though the story’s structure is formulaic, it does surprise the audience now and again, which is all I really ask for. To my defense, if you do find the movie boring, Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra plays half-way through the first reel, that way you can at least have something cool to walk out the door to.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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