Friday, January 9, 2009

Role Models

Role Models is actually a really funny movie! I'm cheerfully surprised to be able to report that, because the trailer was pretty generic, as is the film's plot, but execution trumps idea. It's got consistent laughs from one end to the other and it actually earns them through clever writing and well-sketched characters rather than aggressive and constant vulgarity - there's nudity and profanity, sure, but strip the nudity and profanity from Role Models, you'd still have a funny movie, strip the nudity and profanity from Zack & Miri Make a Porno, you wouldn't have anything.

Paul Rudd plays the same droll, sarcastic guy he plays in everything, Seann William Scott plays Stifler with a different name again, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin) plays a nerd, Elizabeth Banks plays the supportive girlfriend, and so on. Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are apathetic losers who cause an accident and are forced to mentor two kids for a month or go to jail. They resent the idea at first but come to care about their kids and everyone comes out of the experience better people, happy ending, roll credits, applause and tears, etc.

Generic as I said, but it's all forgivable because the whole thing is funny. The characters and actors are funny, the situations they find themselves in are funny, the dialogue is funny, with a hint of surrealism to some of the proceedings. Paul Rudd in particular continues to be MVP of any comedy he's in, and no other actor alive as far as I'm concerned can deliver a dry and sarcastic line the way he can; a snide, vaguely-douchey observation, a self-loathing aside, whatever it is Paul Rudd knocks it way out of the park. It's nice to see him as a main protagonist.

The movie does have a unique crux in that the kid played by McLovin is involved in LARPing (live-action role playing), something I've never seen in a big-screen movie before, where teenagers and lonely middle-aged men dress up in Dungeons & Dragons outfits and go to war. Paul Rudd's character inadvertently stirs up the inner politics of the LARPing community and causes a mess, and is forced to join the war along with McLovin to try to put things right. It all leads to one of the most ludicrous and funniest climactic sequences of the year, a sort of parody of the big fantasy battles in Lord of the Rings (and the shitty knockoff battles in Narnia and Eragon and so on) that had me laughing for fifteen minutes straight.

So if you like Paul Rudd and like laughing, then check out Role Models and you won't be disappointed. And if you don't like Paul Rudd, then seriously, you have bad taste in things, don't read my blog.

3 Stars out of 5

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