The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Role Models

As much as I like movies, I find myself actually going to theaters less and less.  It could have to do with the $20 popcorn/pop combo, but the $11 ticket sure doesn't help.  If I do go to movies, I typically prefer action, drama, epics, thrillers while usually avoiding comedies.  It's always seemed like a waste to me to spend that much money on a 90-minute movie, and then if that comedy isn't funny, we're now 0-for-2.  One that I thought looked good but never got around to seeing, 2008's Role Models, I caught up with on Netflix.

Much of the talent working on Role Models came from a 90s cult TV show called The State, a group that has worked together countless times since.  Watch Reno 911 and you'll see just about everyone from the cast working together again with this comedy.  But that's the problem.  There isn't a ton of comedy.  It's a good movie, an enjoyable flick if nothing else, but it goes long stretches without actually producing any laughs.  The cast is beyond talented, and the finale is pretty crazy, but I only came away liking the movie, not loving it.

A 10-year employee of Minotaur energy drink, 35-year old Danny (Paul Rudd) is having a mid-life crisis and on an epically bad day gets arrested with co-worker Wheeler (Seann William Scott) for a long list of felonies and crimes -- mostly minor ones that together add up.  To avoid jail time, the two have to do 150 hours of community service at Sturdy Wings, an organization that pairs adults with little kids who need mentoring (think Big Brothers and Sisters).  Neither is too enthused about the job, even more so when they meet their kids.  Danny gets Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a teenager who is heavily involved in live action medieval/fantasy role-playing while Wheeler gets Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed boy who goes through "mentors" as quick as they're introduced.  

The basis for the community service is ripe for the picking, and in terms of the relationships the story develops between the 'Bigs' and 'Littles' as Sturdy Wings call them, the movie is a winner.  Danny and Augie find out both of them were forced to do this -- Danny by the judge and Augie by his mom (Kerri Kenney) and stepdad (Ken Marino) -- while Wheeler realizes Ronnie is just looking for a friend and ends up being honest with him, including THIS SCENE where they bond over their love of the female anatomy.  This also comes courtesy of a bonding montage set to an ELO song. But for the most part, these scenes produce a chuckle here and there, but they're never hilarious, side-splitting laughs that the previews made this movie look like it was full of.

I've always been a big Paul Rudd fun, but for most of the first half or so he seems to be sleepwalking.  Granted, the character kinda demands it, but he's not that funny either.  His character is depressed, and doesn't have the same energy that his characters usually do like Knocked Up, Anchorman, or Wet, Hot American Summer.  William Scott is the scene-stealer as Wheeler, a dude who loves what he does -- posing as a Minotaur mascot in energy drink presentations -- and ends up becoming a big brother/father figure to Ronnie.  Their early scenes trying to convince kids not to do drugs -- drink Minotaur instead! -- are perfect, especially with Wheeler decked out in a furry mascot costume. Both Mintz-Plasse (of Superbad fame) and Thompson are hilarious and show that kid actors can be as funny as their adult counterparts.

Some other worthwhile supporting players include Jane Lynch as Gayle Sweeney, the former drug addict alcoholic now running Sturdy Wings, a woman who has quite the nose for sniffing out BS when it's presented, and easy on the eyes Elizabeth Banks as Beth, Danny's recent ex and lawyer.  The whole breaking up subplot with Danny and Beth does drag though and takes away from the much-stronger parts of the movie.  Also look for Joe Lo Truglio as Kuzzik, a fellow medieval/fantasy member who speaks as if he was a knight from the Middle Ages.  The finale as the Medieval Battle Royale is priceless as Danny, Wheeler, Augie and Ronnie - dressed as members of Kiss -- do battle for victory.

Not a ton to say about this comedy.  I really liked parts of it, and others fell flat.  It is a funny movie because of the talent involved with the cast and crew, but it as if at a certain point they forgot to put more jokes or one-liners into the movie.  Worth watching, but probably not a rewatch.

Role Models <----trailer (2008): ** 1/2 /**** 

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