The Story: Danny (Paul Rudd) is having a bad day. Recently dumped by his girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) he ends up getting arrested along with his friend Wheeler (Seann William Scott). In order to avoid jail the two are ordered to do community service at a Boys and Girls Club organization called Sturdy Wings. With their two very different “littles” they must be the “bigs” that the boys look up to, and in the process grow up themselves.
Pros: Role Models is an amazingly funny buddy movie. With a great cast this movie is along the lines of a Judd Apatow or Adam McKay comedy. Following so closely after Zack and Miri, these outing pair’s two different men with two different boys to comedic gold. The boys Danny and Wheeler mentor are scene stealers and the situations they get into are very diverse. Wheeler’s kid Ronnie is a foul mouthed 8-year-old while Augie, Danny’s kid, is involved in a Dungeons and Dragons type group. The situations are hilarious because the boys are real and it’s great to see that Wheeler and Danny aren’t man-children, the formula Will Ferrell made his own. The chemistry between all the leads work together so well and it really feels like everyone had a blast making this movie. The laughs in the first half of the movie are the best and you will laugh for at least 15 minutes straight. I also enjoyed all the side characters like Jane Lynch’s former addict who runs Sturdy Wings to Augie’s mother and her young boyfriend.
Cons: The laughs are so jam packed in the first half of the movie that the second half really drags. When it goes through the formula of the men losing their little buddies and having to face reality it becomes incredibly predictable and not funny. The story keeps moving to get out of the rut but you don’t connect with their personal drama in the second half. I also didn’t understand the heavy focus on the role-playing game that Augie loves. It dominates the entire second half of the movie and it marginalizes Wheeler and Ronnie. The movie also feels long in the middle due to that lack of laughs in the second half.
Characters: The acting and characters make up for weak second half and transcend Role Models to the rest of the great comedies we’ve had this year. Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott have perfect chemistry with each other, in the vein of Seth Rogan James Franco in Pineapple Express. Rudd plays the jerk with a heart of gold to a “T,” making his performance reminiscent of his work in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. William Scott, on his own, is weaker essentially continuing to play Steve Stifler from American Pie. When he’s paired with Rudd or Bobb’e J. Thompson is when he excels. The two young boys are the scene stealers of the bunch. Christopher Mintz-Plasse shows he isn’t too typecast as McLovin’ playing Augie here. He’s the loveable geek seen in these movies but his one-liners are priceless. The best in the bunch is young Bobb’e J. Thompson as the foul-mouthed Ronnie. He’s so tiny but when he opens his mouth, watch out. Watching him fly from the front seat of a car to the back is worth the price of admission.
Overall: Aside from a few missteps in story you won’t be disappointed spending your money on Role Models. I give it a solid 3.5/5.