Universal // 2008 // 102 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 10th, 2009
They're about to get more than they plea-bargained for.
One of my favorite comedies of last year scores a top-notch Blu-ray release. Let me save you the time of reading through this whole thing: Go get it!
Best friends Danny (Paul Rudd, Knocked Up) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott, Mr. Woodcock) live immature, empty lives, as a pair of salesmen pitching energy drinks to local high school kids. Danny is especially miserable, having been recently dumped by his long-time girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks). One day he snaps, causes a massive amount of property damage and, along with Wheeler, lands a 30-day jail sentence.
But they're given an opportunity to sidestep what, in their mind, will be a month's worth of man-on-man sexual assault, by volunteering for a "Big Brothers" type of program called "Sturdy Wings" and mentoring two boys who need a lot of help. And so it begins, the epic saga of two men who have no business looking after kids, learning that there's more to life than causal sex and self-loathing.
Like I said, one of my favorite theatrical comedies of 2008 and, if I think about it hard enough, there's a good chance Role Models could take the top spot. Now, don't go in thinking this film is going to reinvent the comedy genre, because it doesn't. In fact it sticks pretty close to formula all the way through. Our protagonists mess up, are forced into a situation they don't want to be in, eventually grow fond of said situation, mess up again, jeopardize the situation, get mad at each other and jeopardize their friendship, participate in a dirgeful montage where everyone mopes around lamenting the potential great situation they messed up, then come together in a triumphant event which proves that they've changed and, heck, maybe the girl comes back. These are hugely familiar puzzle pieces and how they interlock will come as no surprise to anyone who's seen a mainstream comedy. The upside: the formula works and the picture these pieces create is very, very funny.
The script is a winner, packed with sharp lines. It's obvious this stuff was written with Rudd and Scott in mind (well, Rudd did co-write the thing), as the jokes are fine-tuned towards the stars' comic sensibilities. Rudd is great and pretty much anything he's in is guaranteed to be amusing, unless of course he co-stars with Eva Longoria. He's got that wry delivery down and his character in Role Models -- a premium jackass -- allows him the latitude to land the gags each and every time. Seann William Scott is an underrated comic actor, and even though he's playing with some of that Stifler currency, he's able to tap into already strong material and augment it with his own talents, blending charm, bewilderment, and stupidity into a highly amusing cocktail ("This might be a stupid question, but the Get Out of Jail Free card, that's not based on anything in real life is it?")
Steering this ship is David Wain, an alum from The State. In fact, there are lots of familiar State actors here, particularly Joe LoTruglio who pilfers every scene he's in, as the Renaissance roleplayer who takes the game just a bit too seriously. While Role Models may not have the surreal lunacy of Wet Hot American Summer or The Ten, it's better, funnier, less uneven, and way more charming. It is, also, a hard-R comedy, featuring plenty of surly talk and nudity.
Universal's Blu-ray is a solid high-def experience. The 1.85:1 widescreen is rich in color and sharp in detailing, providing a noticeable upgrade in visual fidelity over standard definition. The picture is bit softer than the higher-end transfers, but will still measure up to enthusiasts' standards. The DTS-HD Master Audio is clean, but not very impacting, considering the source material; the big fight at the end -- a visual standout -- sounds the best, as Wain shot the sequence like an actual action movie.
Extras: Audio commentary from Wain on the theatrical cut; an excellent in-movie experience (Universal is the best in the business with the PiP) featuring interviews and on-set footage; a boatload of amusing deleted scenes and alternate takes; bloopers; a making-of featurettes, a nifty segment on creating the role playing world; a handful of riffs from some of the guys while in character; and a creative BD-Live feature that allows you to create your own Medieval crest and share it online.
The technical treatment is well-executed, the extras are interesting and inventive, and the movie is hilarious. Role Models is a Blu-ray others can look up to.
Not Guilty. The court wants to be like you.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (Flemish)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Version
* Deleted Scenes