Wheeler and Danny, a pair of emotionally stunted slackers, are representatives for Minotaur, an energy drink company. In a perfunctory opening sequence we learn all we need to know about them. Wheeler (Seann William Scott, still channeling Steve Stifler from American Pie) is a walking id, rambunctious and horny; perpetually looking for the next notch on the bedpost. Danny (co-writer Paul Rudd) is a misanthropic whiner, both recently dumped by the long-suffering Beth (Elizabeth Banks) and miserably witty.

Minotaur's pimped product looks thoroughly toxic - "Jeez, it's like Shrek's piss," wails Danny after half a dozen too many. Thoroughly strung out and after a sugar bender from a string of promotional school visits, they manage to get themselves arrested by crashing the company vehicle. They face jail or community service at a youth mentoring program, Sturdy Wings. No prizes where they turn.

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They are assigned to a pair of troubled kids; Wheeler is paired up with Ronnie (Bobb'e J Thompson), a black kid with a sewer between his lips and a caustic soda attitude to match, and Danny works with Augie Farks (Christopher Mintz-Plasse - McLovin from the brilliant Superbad), a 16-year old who is obsessed with live-action fantasy role-playing. ("I bet if I suggested a game of Quidditch he'd cum in his pants.") Each of them has their own family and emotional stumbling blocks for making friends, which are well-written and effective. Yes, it has a filthy mouth, but the core of Role Models is as soft as butter.

Essentially, the movie lives and dies on the strength of its cast, one-time-only laughs and reaction double-takes, which are frequent and often fun. There's nowt of substance or wit to last more than a 30-minute sitcom, but the script's tone is affectionate and likable. The leading men deliver their funny lines well, and they're affable losers, which works in the movie's favour. Jane Lynch (The 40 Year Old Virgin), is by far the standout as the Sturdy Wings manager. Her dubious past is signposted brilliantly, and she steals the show for consistent laughs mined by improvisation. Mintz-Plasse, in his second film, demonstrates a distinctive and unassuming presence, and will doubtless improve in further movies.

The film, at least on paper, shouldn't work - yet another juvenile and foulmouthed Slackers Learn Life Lessons farce. Nevertheless, Role Models is a funny movie, solidly performed by the cast, one that you'll forget about fifteen minutes after leaving. The sound you'll hear throughout is barrels being scraped.

Reviewed on: 11 Jan 2009
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A pair of misanthropic manchildren learn mentoring responsibility.
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Jonathan Melton ***

Director: David Wain

Writer: Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino, Timothy Dowling, W Blake Herron

Starring: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb'e J Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Ken Marino, Kerri Kenney, A.D. Miles

Year: 2008

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US, Germany


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