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Danny and Wheeler are two salesmen who trash a company truck on an energy drink-fueled bender. Upon their arrest, the court gives them a choice: do hard time or spend 150 service hours with a mentorship program. After one day with the kids, however, jail doesn't look half bad. Surrounded by annoying do-gooders, Danny struggles with his every neurotic impulse to guide Augie through the trials of becoming a man. Unfortunately, the guy just dumped by his girlfriend has only sarcasm to offer a bashful 16-year-old obsessed with medieval role play. Meanwhile, charming Wheeler tries to trade in an addiction to partying and women to assist a fifth-grader named Ronnie in redirecting his foul-mouthed ways. It would probably help if Ronnie's new mentor wasn't an overgrown adolescent whose idea of quality time includes keggers in Venice Beach. Once the center's ex-con director gives them an ultimatum, Danny and Wheeler are forced to tailor their brand of immature wisdom to their charges. And if they can just make it through probation without getting thrown in jail, the world's worst role models will prove that, sometimes, it takes a village idiot to raise a child.
For more about Role Models and the Role Models Blu-ray release, see the Role Models Blu-ray Review
Starring: Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong
Director: David Wain
» See full cast & crew
Role Models Blu-ray Review
The usual comedic suspects are back...
Reviewed by Ben Williams, March 10, 2009
Over the past few years, comedy has been on something of a comeback trail with audiences. For years, comedic films have been relegated to second-rate-citizen status among heavier, more dramatic fare; many deserving films went unnoticed by audiences and at awards season. That's all changed recently; Tropic Thunder's Robert Downey Jr. was a surprise Oscar contender and more and more comedic performances are being heralded by critics as awards-worthy. Unfortunately, with this critical and commercial success, there are bound to be more comedies produced that fall short of these accolades. Role Models appeared on the scene in late 2008 and fizzled at the box office with little fanfare. Is the film not up to snuff with some of the great comedy that graced screens last year, or is it an overlooked gem?
Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott), slackers in their thirties, have carved out a niche for themselves as pitch-men for an energy drink company called Minotaur. They spend each day driving a large and obnoxious Minotaur truck from school to school, where they advertise their energy drink, under the guise of an anti-drug program for teens. One fateful day, these two misanthropic characters run afoul with a surly tow-truck driver and end up in the hands of the law. Given the choice of spending a month in jail or serving community service by working as mentors to a group of underprivileged kids, Danny and Wheeler choose the latter. They almost immediately regret that choice when they find themselves paired with Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), two anti-social kids with some decidedly bizarre character traits. Augie is obsessed with dressing as a knight and engaging in costumed middle-ages simulations, while Ronnie has a tendency to act out in violent and vulgar ways. Under pressure from the administrator of the children's program, Gayle (Jane Lynch), and the law, Danny and Wheeler might just have to make this arrangement work.
While Role Models has it's fair share of hilarious moments, the film falls short of achieving the comedic heights of many of the recent, successful Judd Apatow comedies. On the surface, the film has a relatively creative premise, a fantastic cast and a light and silly attitude that serves it well. It's the film's reliance on slapstick humor and punchlines that merely exist as opportunities to hear kids utter vulgarities that causes it to occasionally fall flat. I often felt that the film was going for cheap laughs where a wittier approach would have served it better. Take for example the character of Ronnie. This kid exists in the movie to punch and kick, bite and scream, all while uttering some of the most foul language I've seen on screen in some time. It's often hilarious, but wears thin after a while. I'm not asking for Ronnie to undergo some kind of profound change that turns him into a choir boy, but there has to be a little more arc to his character than yelling four-letter words and kicking people.
Christopher Mitz-Plasse's Augie is an altogether different story; he's less of a raving lunatic and more thoughtful, though he remains criminally under-utilized throughout the film. Both Seann Willam Scott and Paul Rudd are effective and well cast; each actor brings a certain cachet to their roles that helps add to their immediate acceptance from the audience, while serving as something of a distraction at the same time. These two actors are so well known from their recent comedic roles, that Role Models can at times seem disappointing in contrast.
Fortunately, Role Models isn't a total loss. The film is still remarkably and consistently entertaining, while moving at a brisk pace that gives little time between laughs. I may have problems with the direction some of the jokes take throughout the film, but I can't deny that I was thoroughly entertained and laughed heartily at most of them. The film does find a few sweet moments that balance it out, and there's no doubt that both Mr. Mintz-Plasse and Mr. Thompson will be noticed around Hollywood for their performances. I recommend Role Models, but with the caveat that the film feels like it could have offered more. Regardless, I don't doubt that most will find the film to be endlessly hilarious.
Role Models Blu-ray, Video Quality
I was a little surprised with the video quality of Role Models, as it falls into a genre that doesn't normally emphasize cinematographic greatness. While this is hardly a Conrad Hall-looking film, it does feature a nice image with well-saturated colors and robust contrast. Universal has given the movie the 1080 AVC Mpeg-4 treatment in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1; the results are nearly flawless.
I didn't detect a trace of edge enhancement, noise, posterization or any other distracting compression artifacts. The image is clean, offers a good amount of fine detail and is consistent in its presentation of deep colors. If there is one complaint that I can levy at Role Models, it's in the fact that the movie, which was shot on film, looks like it was shot on high definition cameras. There's very little grain and the picture exhibits a smoothness that screams "digital." Given that there is no loss of detail in the image, I have to conclude that this is not the result of excessive digital noise reduction, but is simply the film's intended look. Recommended.
Role Models Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As yet another entry into the recent influx of more dialogue driven Blu-ray releases, Role Models is surprisingly effective given its limited sound design. Universal has, as usual, brought the film, uncompromised, to Blu-ray; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio is the standard the studio hasn't deviated from since they began producing Blu-ray titles. As one would expect from a quality encode, the film's essential dialogue is rendered crisply and without a hint of distortion or audio compression. It's an essential thing for comedies and Role Models benefits nicely from the extra audio resolution.
There's not much surround activity in the film, but one will find a few light ambient touches that do liven up the proceedings from time to time. Music is also well presented and occupies the front soundstage, while occasionally gracing the rear channels. Dialogue is also firmly placed in the center channel throughout the film. The best thing that I can say about this Blu-ray release of Role Models is that the film sounds crisp and clean. There's nothing standing in the way of a viewer experiencing exactly what the filmmakers intended. It's not flashy and it's not altogether impressive, but it works. Recommended.
Role Models Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- Feature-length commentary with Director / Writer David Wain
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Takes
- "On the Set of Role Models"
- "Game On: Creating a Role Playing World"
- "In Character and Off Script"
- BD-Live "My Scenes"
- BD-Live Documentaries
- BD-Live Ye Old Crest Maker
- Picture-in-Picture Cast and Crew Interviews
For whatever reason, comedies are quickly becoming the go-to discs on Blu-ray for a wealth of supplemental features. Role Models is no exception; the disc includes hours of special features that present behind the scenes footage and a host of additional scenes. I was particularly impressed with the film's numerous deleted scenes and alternate takes. There are more than 40 on display here, many of which supply laughs as hearty as those in the actual movie. Three documentaries, "In Character and Off Script," "Game On" and "On the Set of Role Models" offer a nice array of production anecdotes and background information, while being interesting enough to hold most viewers' attention. The comprehensive feature commentary from Director / Writer David Wain is also interesting, though it does get slow at times. Perhaps adding Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott into the mix might have pepped it up a bit. As is normally the case, Universal's U-Control system is employed for all the disc's menus and interactive features. The ubiquitous cast and crew interview picture-in-picture feature is present, along with several BD-Live features of varying interest. All told, Role Models contains a nicely put together collection of supplements that is sure to satisfy viewers with varying levels of interest. Recommended
Role Models Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Role Models is a surprisingly harsh, yet funny film that presents a unique spin on the current trend in comedy filmmaking. I've never been a big fan of comical kids in movies, but this film manages to present the subject matter in a unique and entertaining manner. There's never an attempt at trying to amp up the cuteness factor as the filmmakers seem to enjoy presenting these bratty kids in as unflattering a light as possible. That's a refreshing change of pace that helps Role Models rise above dreck like Daddy Day Care, while not quite achieving the greatness of The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Universal continues their streak of excellent Blu-ray releases by delivering Role Models with well above average picture and audio quality. Supplements are also nicely rounded out and have been arranged to highlight missed comedy bits that fell to the cutting room floor. Role Models wasn't the best comedy of 2008, but it remains a charming distraction that is well worth your time. Recommended.
Role Models: Other Editions
Role Models Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Role Models Announced for Blu-ray - January 6, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd comedy 'Role Models' to Blu-ray on March 10th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 1080p VC-1 accompanied by a 5.1 DTS-HD Master ...
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