Role Models doesn’t come from the Apatow school of comedy despite the same tone and feel. Instead, this one is helmed by David Wain, previously directing the comedy Wet Hot American Summer. Despite rudimentary storytelling, Role Models is saved by the actors and an undoubtedly funny script.
Paul Rudd plays Danny, a sarcastic, unlikeable jerk going through a rough break-up with Beth (Elizabeth Banks). After a mental breakdown at a school outing, Danny is forced to mentor a child for his community service, along with co-worker Wheeler (Sean William Scott). As with any script of this nature, the kids are completely incompatible with the adults, leading to various misadventure and culture clashes.
While instantly predictable, lacking any surprises, or failing to do anything against the mold, Role Models is funny. It sports numerous quotable lines including “whispering eye,” which instantly becomes a means of pranking friends. Wheeler’s adult discussion of KISS with his mentored child (Bobb’e J. Thompson who must have had a blast reciting his lines) is priceless, including a detailed description of song “Love Gun.”
A strong supporting cast, including Jane Lynch as the camp owner and A.D. Miles as the aggravating camp counselor are top notch in terms of laughs. Fans of LARPing will also be intrigued given the enormous amount of screen time given to the activity, and the chance to laugh at themselves a bit.
Role Models isn’t the best comedy of ’08, yet it is incredibly funny. The ridiculous plot is forgettable, cliched, and predictable, but the activities surrounding it more than make up for story mistakes. This is a consistent laugh fest, and arguably Paul Rudd’s best comedic performance to date.
This VC-1 encode suffers from a myriad of problems, many of them attributable to the source. Contrast is blown out, with the whites bleeding into any fine detail. Flesh tones are bronzed and sickly. Reds are overdone with some minor visible artifacting. Sharpness is high, but doesn’t deliver the hi-def detail one should expect. Deleted scenes and trailers show a higher level of film grain, so there’s little doubt that some DNR was applied. Black crush is also a problem in the early going. A few close-ups do deliver in terms of detail, although these shots are brief.
A DTS-HD master mix doesn’t do a lot to impress, although the large-scale LARP battles do offer something worth listening to. There’s significant surround activity during these fights, including active stereo channels as well. It’s surprisingly well designed for a dialogue-driven comedy. Bass is limited to the music, and doesn’t provide much of a punch.
A solo commentary by Wain disappoints on the basic level that it fails to offer any of the cast. A brief selection of funny outtakes are followed up by an enormous selection of deleted scenes, nearly reaching 50 minutes. Two featurettes offer brief and entertaining looks behind-the-scenes in-between filler material that reeks of self-promotion. The better of the two focuses on the fantasy game.
Three sections of in-character interviews are somewhat bland, and an interactive crest maker is rather pointless. BD-Live support has a single featurette focusing on the Sturdy Wings building, and Universal’s always irritating U-Control delivers picture-in-picture content.