Role Models (2008)
April 14, 2024 11:33 PM - Subscribe

Wild behavior forces a pair of energy drink reps to enroll in a Big Brother program.

After salesmen Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) trash a company truck, the court gives them a choice: jail time or community service in a mentoring program. Thinking to take the easy way out, the two overgrown adolescents find themselves paired with a teenager (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is experiencing the pangs of first love, and a foul-mouthed fifth-grader (Bobb'e J. Thompson), who needs an attitude adjustment.

Kerrie Murphy: Nothing unexpected here: the men learn about responsibility and the boys receive the unquestioning acceptance they need. But there are some hearty laughs along the way.

I've been a fan of Rudd since Clueless and thought he deserved better than the characters -- best friends or husbands -- he has generally played since. So it's great to see him in a lead role. He is perfect as a guy who uses smug sarcasm as a shield against a stupid world and he's an ideal foil to Scott's skirt-chasing partydude.

No one is going to marvel at the actors' Stanislavsky-like artistry, but Scott and Rudd are fun to watch and their bickering is hilarious; not as hilarious, though, as their attempts to digest Gayle's self-important little speeches.

Sarah Wagner: Live Action Roleplaying (LARPing) plays a big part in Role Models. The detailed world of Laire and the politics and rules of play are well thought out. The penultimate battle is fun, melodramatic, and engrossing. The LARP game portrayed isn’t a real game but made up for the movie.

And while it isn’t exactly accurate, there are a number of elements that are. Accuracy, in this case, isn’t the point.

The happy ending comes with a side of lessons learned and some ridiculous but wonderful costumes. Role Models is more about understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness and less about trying to be perfect in the representation of the LARP.

Dana Stevens: Role Models (Universal) is funnier than it has any right to be. It’s the first mainstream movie from David Wain, a veteran of the comedy troupe the State who previously directed two sketch-based cult films, Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid making another collection of randomly stitched-together skits, Wain has Role Models neatly following the classic arc of the buddy comedy: Two guys, trapped together by fate, execute one stupid decision after another before finally realizing that, hey, maybe they could actually accomplish something if they stopped being such schmucks. Like any formula, it can work if done well, and Role Models is strewn with enough serendipities to make it a worthy variation on the dudes-grow-up genre.

posted by Carillon (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Always better than it has any right to be. I first saw it a few years after it came out, and have always appreciated a rewatch.
posted by Carillon at 11:34 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]

The large coffee speech is a perfect time capsule of the kind of clever assholery that Gen X was for so long hardwired to enjoy, even if we might be embarrassed by it in 2024. To the film's credit, I think that--while it wants us to laugh--it also wants us to cringe.

Poor Seann William Scott... pretty much every chance I've seen him given to do more than be a punchable dudebro, he has lived up to it, but he hasn't really gotten many of those chances.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:32 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]

Yes, fond memories of this one. "Better than it has any right to be" is a good summation.
posted by seasparrow at 12:10 PM on April 15

I still play in a LARP similar to LAIRE (with more hitting). Every single person in Role Models, foreground or background, is a perfect LARP archetype. I felt very at-home watching this.
posted by hanov3r at 7:13 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

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