By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures
From the opening teaser of Seann William Scott making Paul Rudd smell his fingers, Role Models tells you exactly what kind of movie it is. It delivers exactly that with a sense of fun and freedom of not having to pretend to be anything else.
Review: Role Models
These guys know it's high concept, but they play it. The idea of Scott and Rudd as Big Brother type mentors to special needs children is awesome. The kids are outrageous, even within their stereotypes (a foul mouthed tough kid and a cape wearing live-action role player), and the guys try to handle them as grown ups.
Scott's character goes sincere with the foul mouth and it works. They relate over sex and boobies, the Big explaining obvious metaphors so the Little thinks he's cool. Rudd's character follows through the logic of our annoying expressions and redundant metaphors. The role players are easy prey for him, but he hits them with his best. It's a great movie for deadpan and I love Rudd pointing out the sloppiness of modern lingo.
The whole thing is taking the piss out of superior adults trying to "save" kids. These guys don't talk down to them. Though it's not heavy on plot, they do address issues and solve the problems.
Even contrived set pieces work because they just beat them at their own game. Yeah, a big Renaissance Fair battle between grown-ups in costumes is an easy joke, but they show up with the most appropriate costumes and win without totally selling out their contempt for the enterprise.
I kind of like Role Models more than some original comedies that just try too hard. This movie does enough work that it's not just a sketch, but it focuses on just being funny. It surely had some sentimental moments but the fact that I can't remember them means they buried them within enough comedy that it worked.