Comedies are difficult to make. Every year, dozens and dozens of comedies are released and only a select few manage to be a decent watch. Most are usually unfunny exercises in idiocy. Over the last couple of weeks we've had two comedies that are worth watching. First we had the good, but nothing special Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Now we have the slightly better, but still nothing special Role Models. We're on a roll.
The film follows Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny (Paul Rudd) who, after being arrested, are assigned to the Sturdy Wings program as big brothers to two under privileged boys. Wheeler is assigned to a foul mouthed kid who has never had a big brother last more than a day and Danny is assigned to a nerd who is obsessed with live action role playing (i.e. hitting people with Styrofoam swords). They are hardened guys who just want to fulfill their requirement and get on with their lives, but will learn important lessons along the way.
Basically, we've seen this movie before. I know it's a comedy, but is it really too much to ask for a plot that I haven't seen countless times in other films? Hmm, I wonder if Wheeler and Danny will grow to love the two boys and learn to put their selfish ways aside in the hopes of finding some kind of self enlightenment? I'm tired of seeing this kind of story arc. It's old and overused.
However, a comedy has its humor to fall back on. If this were a drama, I would instantly ostracize it for its lack of originality. But regardless of how mundane a comedy's story is, what it really boils down to is whether or not it is funny. Luckily for Role Models, it is. While it isn't my favorite comedy I've seen this year, there are at least three or four big laughs and many more chuckles and grins to accompany them.
Still, it does get stale as the movie goes on. You know how some movies are said be "one note joke" films? Well, this is slightly better. It's a two note joke film. The majority of the gags come from the interactions between Wheeler, Danny, and the kids. Like I said, one kid is foul mouthed and one kid is a nerd. They milk these characters for everything they can and it gets old fast. There are only so many role playing nerd jokes I can take. I mean, I get it. He's a dork. Move on. But it never did. It stayed this way up until the very last scene.
The foul mouthed child is no different. There isn't anything inherently humorous in a child cussing. There has to be something funny to say or it has to be said in a context that fits the rest of the scene. Instead, the child randomly blurted out vulgarity even in scenes where it just wasn't necessary. The jokes simply didn't have enough variety.
Despite all of my complaining, I enjoyed the film. I do have some reservations with the structure of it and the "been there done that" story, but the simple fact is that I laughed a lot, enough to recommend the film. Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are terrific as always and watching them play off of each other was a blast. Their talent is enough to save this movie even with its drawbacks. Zack and Miri Make a Porno will probably get more accolades because of its shock value, but for my money Role Models is the better of the two and the comedy to see.
Role Models receives 3.5/5