Sunday, May 17, 2009

Role Models

There was no way I was going near Role Models. No way. It's going to be a silly, demeaning, sex-filled movie filled with arrogant men who can't act. Two things changed my mind: positive movie reviews by people I trust, like Peter Hartlaub from the San Francisco Chronicle, and Paul Rudd.

Almost everything Paul Rudd is in is worth watching, in my opinion. The guy has movie-star good looks, and never trades on them. He is sometimes in the strangest movies, calling on the strangest casting, but somehow makes the project better with very few exceptions. For instance, take Clueless, or Anchor Man.

In this film, Rudd plays a man who's just been jilted by his long-time girlfriend (played by Elizabeth Banks) because he's just a negative, unhappy guy. He and his workmate, played by Seann William Scott, are in a badly-paid, meaningless job where they drink energy drinks and pitch them to high school kids. Rudd, in his funk, does some stupid things and gets them both arrested. The judge gives them a choice of becoming Big Brother-type mentors for 150 hours or going to jail. As Scott's character often says, jail sometimes looked easier.

They're paired up with the two hardest cases in the camp: teenaged Augie (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is totally into dorkdom and dungeons and dragons, and 10-year-old Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), who is foul-mouthed and hard to handle.

Not every gag works, but most of them do, mostly because they're plot- and character-driven. Paul Rudd and David Wain co-wrote the screenplay, and Wain directed, and they both know what works. And these actors, even the supporting actors, are perfect for their parts, worthy of guffaws time and time again. Besides the kids, who are hilarious, special mention must go to Jane Lynch, who is so funny as the tic-laden, 12-stepping boss of the big brother program.

It's nice to see Seann William Scott in better material, and working with a director who knows how to slow him down and straighten him out. Once he's not the center of hedonistic attention, he's actually likeable.

Thumb's up.


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