Role Models: When Convention Happens to Funny People

After the moments of brilliance in Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten, I expected Role Models to save me from a summer of disappointing summers full of hilarious talent doing merely okay work. Perhaps those expectations are unfair, but they were not met. Instead of a movie that made me laugh out loud, it was a film that merely made me smile all the way through—a familiar, pleasant formula comedy with a terrific ending but long stretches of no audible “ha ha”s.

Paul Rudd leads a cast of one-dimensional characters including Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch, and Elizabeth Banks in what has to be one of the most thankless and underwritten roles in all of 2008. There’s a plot involving jerk guys looking after loser or foulmouthed children. It’s a standard comedy setup, and it works fine. However, with the exception of Mintz-Plasse who gives his role some real heart, all of the leads seem to be sleepwalking through the first 3/4ths of the film, coasting through the conventional parts of the plot. Rudd in particular seems to be content in being an acerbic shell of the acerbic characters he’s played in the past.

However, nothing that comes from people this bizarre and funny can remain trapped within the conventional for long. The final 15 minutes of the film are a delight, an absurd showdown where all the characters collide, including the single funniest character in the film, Kussik, played by the grossly underrated Joe Lo Truglio, best know to the world as the creepy guy who hits Jonah Hill with the car in Superbad. I laughed consistently, and left the theater with a smile on my face. If only the rest of the film had the same sense of fun and absurdity. Instead, it is merely a decently amusing film, perhaps suited better for the small screen.

~ by russellhainline on November 14, 2008.

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