There are few movies in the world that can make me laugh harder than “Role Models,” my pick for “F.I.L.M. of the Week.” An R-rated romp that slipped through the cracks for most upon release in 2008, David Wain’s riotous comedy is fantastic through and through. It’s held up miraculously well, too – trust me, I’ve watched it dozens of times and still bust a gut.
As the two leads doing a comic man/straight man routine, Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are absolute perfection. Scott gets to play the absurd variation of the Stifler character for “American Pie” that made him famous, while Paul Rudd plays perhaps his best bleakly blunt pessimist yet. Though Rudd rings real in opposition to the ridiculous Scott, that doesn’t mean he’s grim or depressing. Rather, he’s all the funnier and relatable as Paul Rudd proves once again he might be the most adept actor at bringing all our frustrations and annoyances to comedic light.
The free-wheeling Wheeler (Scott) and Danny (Rudd) find themselves in a world of trouble after a particularly bad day on the job peddling energy drinks to kids. But rather than go to prison for their trail of destruction, they wind up getting community service at Sturdy Wings, a Big Brother-Little Brother type program. The two quickly find out that prison is a more appealing option than most people would consider.
First of all, Sturdy Wings is run by a crackpot ex-alcoholic and drug addict, Gayle Sweeney – played by Jane Lynch pre-Sue Sylvester (this part probably got her that character). And to say she steals the show is a vast understatement. You only hear every other line from her because your laughs from one line bleed over well into the next one. She speaks in bizarre metaphors that don’t make sense and LOVES reminding everyone of her former habits to a painstakingly hilarious extent.
And Gayle pairs them with two “littles” that scared off everyone else who was volunteering. Wheeler gets stuck with a firecracker in Ronnie, a crude and manipulative little version of himself. Danny, on the other hand, is given Augie, an introvert with a good heart that loves nothing more than a good live-action roleplaying game. Their adventures are strange and funny, leading them to campfires and virtual battlefields, but David Wain brings a funny-bone and a heart to every moment of it. His “Role Models” packs an excellent message of mentoring and guidance towards becoming a better person without ever being sappy or cheesy; rather, he finds a way to get it across smoothly with laughs, smiles, and good feelings all around.