Full spoilers for the movie Role Models(2008), including all my favorite jokes; the plot isn’t that intricate and you’ll still be able to enjoy this despite spoilers
This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and probably my favorite Paul Rudd movie? It’s definitely up there. It’s very funny, in my opinion. Paul Rudd has done at least four movies and a couple Netflix series with the director, David Wain. Of those movies, I consider this to be the best one. I’m not a huge fan of the director’s sense of humor, as it tends to be very random and overly silly but also gross in a way I don’t love? But other than a few raunchy American Pie-esque jokes, this movie is just a standard comedy with hilarious situations and jokes. I’ve watched it many times and will watch it many times more, and would like to thank my old camp counselors, Craig, Seb, Kyle and JP for introducing me to this movie many years ago.
Role Models stars Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse(Known for his legendary performance as McLovin in Superbad, another favorite of mine), and Bobb’e J. Thompson, who is now 25, but was twelve at the time. Other notable names include Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Matt Walsh, and Keegan-Michael Key in a small cameo.
Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott play Danny and Wheeler, two sort-of friends that work for an energy drink company and go around to schools giving speeches about why drugs are bad and energy drinks are good. Danny is uptight; he hates his job and his life and is constantly being irritated by everything. Wheeler is very cheerful and lives life without consequences, sleeping around and being an idiot. The opening scene is a montage of the two of them driving from school to school in their giant van that looks like a minotaur. The company is called Minotaur. This is when the first amazing joke is uttered:
Danny: Hey, don’t get me wrong. Alright? I like to rock and roll all night, and… part of every day.
Wheeler: Party every day. Rock and roll all night and party every day.
Danny: I like to rock and roll part of every day. I usually have errands. I can rock and roll like from like 1:00 to 3:00.
After the montage, Danny is surprised with his ten year anniversary party at work. His girlfriend, Beth(Elizabeth Banks) is there. It is now that Danny realizes what a waste his adult life has been. The next day he provokes an argument with Beth after picking a fight with a barista:
Danny: Can I get a large black coffee?
Barista: A what?
Danny: Large black coffee.
Barista: Do you mean a venti?
Danny: No, I mean large.
Barista: Venti is large.
Danny: No, venti is twenty. Large is large. In fact, tall is large and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn’t mean large. It’s also the only one that’s Italian. Congratulations, you’re stupid in three languages.
Barista: Look, dick. Venti is a large coffee.
Danny: Really? Says who? Fellini? Do you accept lira or is it all euros now?
Beth yells at Danny for being a miserable jerk all the time. He then has a lapse in judgement, and surprises Beth at her office with an unplanned proposal. She says no and then breaks up with him. He reacts by giving this speech at the next school him and Wheeler visit:
Danny: Drugs. Why do kids take drugs? Because they’re awesome. No, maybe they just understand that life is pain and if you smoke something or take a pill it’ll go away for a while. I’ll drink to that! People say embrace life. Enjoy life. Just do it, live it. Rock it. Fuck it. Because life is horrible. You know, I may not be so happy-go-lucky, but I’m a realist. Get ready to have your dreams dashed, kids, because nothing’s going to work out the way you think it’s going to. Chin-chin! By the way, this stuff’s poison(Mic drop).
They leave the school to find their van being towed. In yet another lapse in judgement, Danny decides to try and drive the van and escape the tow truck, which results in him and Wheeler crashing the van into the school’s statue. Due to some heavy bargaining between the judge and their lawyer, Beth, Danny and Wheeler are not going to go to prison. Instead they get to help out at Sturdy Wings, an organization that pairs up lonely and at risk kids with role models. The organization is led by Sweeny(Jane Lynch), a former drug addict and intensely psychotic weirdo. Sweeney introduces Danny and Wheeler, who are now Bigs(Probably creepy on purpose), to their littles. Wheeler gets to work with a young African-American kid named Ronnie who swears and talks about breasts a lot. And Danny gets Augie Farks, a very nerdy guy who is definitely too old for this program. Augie is a huge fan of LARP(Live-action role-play), which confuses and irritates every other character in the movie. Essentially he meets up in a park with a bunch of other people who pretend to be a part of this mystical fantasy realm. Everyone dresses up as knights and wizards and elves and goes on adventures and fights and stuff.
From there Danny and Wheeler try to spend as much time with the boys as possible so as to get their 150 hours completed and get out of the program quickly. Wheeler has to drive the four of them around, because Danny’s license has been revoked. You know. Because he drove into a statue. Wheeler introduces Ronnie to Kiss, and Augie brings Danny LARPing with him at the local park. There they meet many ridiculous characters of all ages that want to run around and have sword fights and adventures. The funniest parts of this movie are from the LARPing scenes because the movie isn’t really making fun of it. Danny ridicules it a lot, but the message of the movie is that Augie should be able to be who he wants to be, and he’d rather be a part of a much cooler(But technically fictional) world. And every extra and character that takes part in these games is 100% committed to their roles, seeming at once both ridiculous and awesome.
Augie is good friends with Kuzzik(Real name unknown), who is played by Joe Lo Truglio, also known as Boyle in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I very much dislike his character in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I like him a lot in this. He’s also in another Paul Rudd movie that I will be discussing on Monday. We are also introduced to King Argotron(Ken Jeong), another comedian that I don’t love in other things, but I enjoy him in this. King Argotron is just some douchy guy who was made king of the kingdom in that park? They don’t get into it, but he sucks. He also constantly hangs out at the nearby Burger Hole with his right hand man, Davith of Glencracken, who is played by the great Matt Walsh of Veep fame.
Beth moves out and tells Danny in no uncertain terms that their relationship is over. He sets out to find a way to convince her that he loves her and wants to be with her still. Around this part of the movie, another great exchange occurs when Danny and Wheeler go to Sweeny to get their hour sheets signed:
Sweeny: Well, well, well. If it isn’t Mr. Bullshit and Dr. I’m-Full-Of-Shit.
Wheeler: In what way are we full of shit?
Danny: Which one of us has the PHD?
[A few lines later]
Sweeny: Don’t you sass me. You know what I used to eat for breakfast? Cocaine! Know what I had for lunch? Cocaine!
Wheeler: What did you have for dinner?
Danny: Was it cocaine?
So then all the Bigs and Littles go on a camping trip together. Wheeler takes a bunch of sleeping pills and goes to have sex with an engaged woman but then passes out naked in the middle of the clearing. Sweeny is going to report them to the judge, but Augie and Ronnie cover for them.
Ronnie: Suck it, Reindeer Games!
Danny: I’m not Ben Affleck!
Ronnie: You white, then you Ben Affleck. Right, Wheeler?
Wheeler: You are white.
Danny: That’s true, I am white.
Danny and Augie start to bond more, leading Danny to practice fighting with fake swords. Is he enjoying LARPing? Maybe. Also everything the LARPers say is a very thinly veiled innuendo. I think at one point someone says “Let us gingerly touch tips.” So then Paul Rudd and Augie take part in this big battle, and Augie slays the king. OoOoOoHhHh. But Ken Jeong refuses to admit that it happened. And in an attempt to stand up for Augie, Danny ends up getting him banned. Much to the delight of Augie’s mom and stepdad, who get mad at Danny when he calls them out for being shitty parents because they actively root for their son to not do what he loves. Meanwhile Wheeler takes Ronnie to this big party and leaves him for a few minutes to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately he ends up having sexual relations with a teacher at the party, and Ronnie walks home, scared, sad, and alone. So now Danny and Wheeler have been kicked out of Sturdy Wings and will have to go to jail. Oh, no!
The day they have to go to court also happens to be the day of the big battle at the park. The Battle Royale! So Danny goes to Ken Jeong to convince him to let Augie fight, who says he will, and then tells Kuzzik and all the Xanthians(Their nation) that they will be targeted or whatever if they let Augie fight with them. So Augie is happy for a moment and then bummed out. But it turns out you only need four people to make a nation. Danny calls Wheeler who has reconciled with Ronnie and his mom, and him and Ronnie drive over to help. There’s a great montage where they all suit up in crazy outfits and black and white makeup, and then pick up the minotaur at the work lot. They are now the nation of Kiss-My-Anthia!
I’ll summarize this part quicker, I promise: They fight in the Battle Royale and Augie beats the King but then himself is beaten by Esplen, this girl he has a crush on. Danny and Wheeler reconcile and Danny accepts that Wheeler is his friend. Sweeny shows up with Augie’s mom and stepdad and sees that they did care about the kids, so she tells the judge to drop their sentence. She knows him for reasons I won’t get into here. Danny really enjoys LARPing, and Beth, who showed up to find out why they weren’t at the courthouse, falls in love with him again. Also this happens:
Augie’s Mom: Get him, Augie!
King Argotron: You shut up, whore!
Augie: MY MOM IS NOT A WHORE!!!
It’s hard to believe, but there’s a lot I didn’t mention and more great jokes to be found. It’s a great, great movie. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you. If you don’t mind knowing the plot of the movie going in. There’s also an ongoing joke where this annoying guy keeps trying to convince Paul Rudd that Wings wrote a song called Love Take Me Down To The Streets, but Paul Rudd insists it doesn’t exist, because he’s uptight and sad. But the second the credits role, you hear Love Take Me Down To The Streets, a song written for this film that they then got a Paul McCartney sound-alike to perform. It’s great. And, I mean, if this photo doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure what will:
Watch this movie. It’s great. A very, very funny movie. And most of it was improvised! Which I think is awesome, because the jokes in this are so clever!
Overall Rating: 7.9/10(Giving it an 8 feels excessive, though it is a great movie. If there weren’t so many lines about boobs in this movie I might rate it higher. But there’s a lot of lines about boobs in this movie. I forgot to mention that.)
Rudd Rating: 11/10(Paul Rudd is at his absolute peak in this movie. He’s incredibly funny and, as you can see above, very sexy in this. Also, as usual, he looks much younger than he really is.)
I know I released this later than usual, but it’s actually coming out on the same day as the first three episodes of Paul Rudd’s new Apple+ show, The Shrink Next Door! On Monday I will be covering my other favorite Paul Rudd movie, I Love You, Man. So stay tuned for that. Also I was very tired last night, so I might not have actually written it, but there should be a post about the momentous award that Paul Rudd received and the magazine I plan to buy two copies of. So go read that if I actually wrote it. Thank you for your support!