Wed November 5, 2008
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Taste the Beast"-- slogan for energy drink, "Minotaur" in Role Models
I've tasted the beast Role Models and received only a small jolt of comedy where with a Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith slacker wacker, laughs usually abound, of all varieties, not all good, of course. Wheeler (Sean William Scott) and Danny (Paul Rudd) are sentenced to 150 hours of community service to avoid jail for a destructive traffic dispute. For their punishment, these aging "kidults" (Stephen Holden's word) help youngsters who are smarter and more foul-mouthed than they.
Standing out among the needy children is Ronnie (Bobbie J. Thompson), a potty-mouthed urchin spun off, it would seem, from a kinder Gary Coleman. Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Augie is an extension of his McLovin' in Superbad, nerdy and brainy but loveable. His role is the most memorable in the dungeons-and -dragons war that eventually involves most of the cast. This contest had potential for saving the film from comedic mediocrity (In combat, this was exclaimed by one of the fey combatants: "Come, let us gingerly touch our tips!"), but director/writer David Wain and his creative others couldn't sustain the satire as they stoop to visual clich?s such as the corn dog scene (You don't want to know other than it's the raunchy visualization of pigs in a blanket).
The adults of this film, and those in Apatow's Knocked Up and Smith's Zack and Miri, are in arrested development, boys who have not grown up but do under the mentorship of a savvy woman or precocious child. Embodied in the smart but lazy Seth Rogen characters, these affectionate slackers are the new comedy leads of this century, rehabilitated kidults with enough charm to make us forget how we all hope our children to amount to more. Or even less as long as you can tell the difference between them and the children.
Danny: "Pick us up in two hours."
Ronnie: "F_ _ _ you, Miss Daisy."
The kids own this round. But, then, that's not so difficult.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com