<<Preface>> This is a first viewing for me.
I’ve been stuck in a quagmire of work and family drama for the last week (weddings, layoffs, and taxes, oh my!) So, when I get my bundle of red envelopes today — why is it always like winning the lottery if you actually get a movie from your Netflix queue that you want? — I am so thrilled to see Role Models Unrated. I think to myself: this is just what I need. I think to myself: Oh thank God for Seann William Scott & Paul Rudd & Jane Lynch. I think to myself: Let’s do this thing. I need to laugh just about now.
“You can do anything you want in life – as long as you stay away from drugs.”
The opening sequence is so sad – kids have gotten meaner over the years. No. It’s not my imagination. Exhibit A – the group of tweens in the hall after Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny (Paul Rudd) give their first motivational speech on behalf of Minotaur energy drink – stay off drugs, drink “radioactive horse piss” instead! It’s all right though, Wheeler pwn’s them. Score one for the over-30’s.
After their busy day, Wheeler surprises Danny back at the Minotaur headquarters for his 10-year anniversary with the company. Enter the ever-adorable Elizabeth Banks as Danny’s girlfriend, Beth. It’s clear right away that A.) Danny does not share Wheeler’s enthusiasm for living the Minotaur dream, B.) that Beth is holding their relationship together, C.) Danny is a powder keg, just waiting to go off…oh, I said it. I went there – and none too soon. The next morning, Danny says what I’ve only ever dreamt of saying when he and Beth go to a coffee shop and he asks for a large black coffee.
“You mean a venti? Venti is large.”
“No…venti is 20. Large is large. In fact, tall is large and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn’t mean large. It’s also the only one that’s Italian. Congratulations. You’re stupid in three languages.”
Beth and Danny have a row after his little display at the coffee shop because he’s become a miserable d*ck. He’s obviously having a mid-life crisis and as he begins his Minotaur workday with Wheeler, he busts in on Beth’s office while she’s with a client and proposes marriage. She shuts him down. After seven years of living in the “d*ck rut” she tells him she’s moving out and that she doesn’t want to see him anymore.
Uh-oh. A bad day just got worse.
At their last stay-off-drugs presentation of the day, Danny loses it and tells the kids to give up and take drugs. Outside, their freakishly garish Minotaur-themed truck is being towed. The scene that follows is filled with testosterone goodness…
Here’s the basic setup – Wheeler and Danny have majorly screwed up, are charged with a litany of misdemeanors and felonies, and are sentenced to 150 hours of community service at Sturdy Wings (founded by Gayle Swan — played by the ever-hilarious Jane Lynch). Her infomercial montage is screamingly funny– “I used to be addicted to pills. Now, I’m addicted to helping.” I watch her dancing probably five times in a row, laughing until tears are streaming out of my eyes. Yep. That’s the stuff.
Rudd, who also shares a screenwriting credit for the film, has helped set the tone for the film. I’m prepared for things to get even funnier — and I’m not disappointed. The orientation scene at Sturdy Wings is fantastic. Jane Lynch…oh, Jane Lynch. How many times have I almost peed myself watching you in your brilliance?
Enter Augie (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who played McLovin in one of my favorite comedies Superbad) as Danny’s “little.” A cloaked geek playing out his own warped Star Wars fantasy on the roof, alone…so alone. Meanwhile, Wheeler is meeting his “little” – a troubled pre-teenager named Ronnie (played by Bobb’e J. Thompson) who’s drawing a very inappropriate picture of himself and Beyonce. Ronnie’s got quite a mouth on him – wonder if that’s why he can’t manage to keep a “big” interested in him for more than a few visits. In fact, their “littles” are so bad, Danny suggests they should just go to prison…maybe it would be easier.
The two decide to give it a try – but neither one of them has a clue what to do with kids. They decide to take the kids to a Chuck-E-Cheese-type establishment. Again. Kids have gotten so mean – this Ronnie kid is a nightmare.
Augie, on the other hand, is my kind of kid. True nerd (I won’t say geek – after all, geeks get it done, nerds just hypothize about ways to get it done). He drags Danny to LAIRE – Live Action Interactive Roleplaying Explorers – event where everyone dresses like, speaks like, pretends like it’s the middle ages. It’s like stepping into a different world and Danny is totally out of his element. I’ve known a couple Renaissance nerds and if you’re wondering, no. No what you see in this film is not an exaggeration.
Meanwhile, Ronnie tricks Danny into going into a convenience store for some juice and when he gets back, Ronnie locks him out of the car. Danny’s left the keys in the ignition and Ronnie goes for a brief joyride. Wow. That kid is a holy terror.
8 hours down. 142 to go. As Danny and Wheeler punch the crap out of each other at the end of the day you won’t be alone in wondering if these two are actually going to survive their community service sentence.
It’s fun watching both of these men try to reach out to their “littles,” especially Wheeler as he teaches Ronnie about his favorite band KISS and how all of their songs are about…well…I’m sure you can imagine. Finally, they seem to be getting somewhere when they realize they share some common ground – their adolescent fixation on women.
Not to be missed is the Sturdy Wings camp-out. Brilliant. I love camping. Camping with kids is especially fun and tricky. It’s a recipe for fun – Ambien, camping, girls, boys, men, women, the stars, and a fire pit.
Right about now I’m thinking it’s time for a montage – and we get one. Wheeler teaches the boys about sex. Augie teaches Danny about Medieval warfare. They go to the beach. They play Wheeler’s KISS pinball machine. They have more meetings with Gayle (love you Jane Lynch). Augie even helps Danny get Beth to meet him for coffee. Although it doesn’t do any good…she’s committed to the breakup, and as a consolation, she tells Danny he can call her for legal advice. Ouch, well, at least he still has a lawyer.
Augie also finally convinces Danny to participate in a LAIRE battle. Is it me, or is there something very rewarding about watching middle-aged dorks beat the crap out of each other with padded fake weapons? Augie even kills the “king” and instead of admitting he was killed in battle by a kid, the “king” disqualifies Augie and Danny from LAIRE…forever. Oh the renaissance drama!
“That’s fine if you don’t give a sh*t,” Augie screams at Danny after the two are disqualified. “But you don’t have to ruin it for me, because I do give a sh*t. I give lots of sh*ts!”
Later that night, Wheeler and Ronnie go to a party and Wheeler helps Ronnie with the ladies. This is not going to end well…you can sense it when Wheeler makes a break from Ronnie (who’s busy with the Xbox) to chat up a blonde hottie while they wait for the bathroom. But, when Ronnie realizes he’s been ditched he walks home alone.
Meanwhile, Danny goes over to Augie’s house for dinner to make amends. Family dinner with your friends always sucks. It’s always uncomfortable. Especially when Augie’s Mom and her boyfriend express their joy over his being banned from LAIRE when it so clearly means so much to him.
Gayle throws Danny and Wheeler out when the news gets back to her – meaning they’re 12 hours short, meaning they’re going to have to go to jail. That’s the final straw. Danny and Wheeler finally have it out with one another in the elevator leaving Sturdy Wings.
As the film nears it’s comedically genius final climax, everyone makes amends and they come together to fight in LAIRE’s Battle Royale as Kiss-my-anthia. You have to see it to truly understand and appreciate the nerdy goodness.
The final word: Role Models is largely humorous but it doesn’t break any of the rules – it never strays too far from what you expect. Comedy, being somewhat subjective, can be difficult, but Role Models has something for everyone. The unrated version has a few smatterings of age-appropriate moments so don’t let your underage nephews talk you into letting them watch this version unless you’ve seen it first yourself.