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With Jim Sabatini

Role Models

Role Models
Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb'e J. Thompson and Mintz-Plasse

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: November 8 , 2008 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

This officious comedy from director/co-writer David Wain (The Ten) has the sensibility of films like Drillbit Taylor and Bad Santa that only goes so far. But, a multiplex crowd will definitely find pleasure with the time-worn convention of mean-spirited outrageousness.

Role Models stars Paul Rudd (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Seann William Scott (Southland Tales) as Danny and Wheeler, two representatives for energy drink company Minotaur. As the company spokesman and the inspirational mascot, respectively, Danny and Wheeler turn irresponsible after being insulted at the school where they promote their (after-tasting) product.

When they cause damage with their monster truck to break out of a tow truck's clutches, the picture descends into a strident, often gratuitous display of "two wrongs trying to make it right". As Danny is reeling from being dumped by his lawyer girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), she tells him that the alternative to 30 days in jail is community service at Sturdy Wings, a child-mentoring organization.

Much of the picture centers on what Danny and Wheeler have to endure as Big Brothers for kids that aren't befriended - Danny with a dorky Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) as Augie who enjoys a Dungeons & Dragons hobby; Wheeler with a sharp-tongued black kid, fashioned in rude, misfit style by Bobb'e J. Thompson.

Scott, hones into some of his American Pie angst, having lecherous rapport with Thompson while Rudd's jaded cynicism works for awhile, even opposite the bespectacled, more subdued Mintz-Plasse.

The broadness of the gags isn't of the bold, quirky variety as Wain has made the bonding and the notion of responsibility too formulaic and foul as the actors don't seem to be on the same wavelength. Rudd's character, most notably, doesn't seem like he would do the things he eventually does, as the actor seems almost as disaffected as Danny.

Still, Jane Lynch offers occassional whooping sass as the now sober Sturdy Wings director, and Danny (who's referred to as Ben Affleck) and company have fun in the climax as Role Models has KISS, the rock group with makeup on their mind. That's after the filmmakers have worked the viewer, as well as Augie, with the "whispering eye".

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