Unsolicited Role Models Review

Role Models
Starring: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb’e J. Thompson
Directed by David Wain
2008

This movie’s cast list reads like a battle of the crazy names. In addition to McLovin’s hyphenated mess and the inexplicable “Bobb’e J. Thompson,” Role Models boasts the acting talents of such strange-monikered folk as Landon Ashworth, Nick Nervies, Caleb Matthew Collins, Zandy Hartig, and Jorma Taccone. Are those last two people, candy, or premium coffee flavors? I have no fucking idea.

Fresh off his eight year old success Wet Hot American Summer (a movie cynical Gen Yers swear by), director and “State” alum David Wain brings us this tale of two energy drink salesmen who land in some hot water (don’t you hate that saying?) and end up having to mentor a couple of wacky youths per their community service. Not the strongest premise, but remember that old comedy proverb: it’s not the material, it’s the delivery. I mean, shit, Billy Madison sounded pretty stupid to me before I bought my tickets. Then I saw that brilliant Wheat Thin exchange between Bradley Whitford and Larry Hankin and I knew I was witnessing entertainment history.

Rudd and William Scott have already proven their salt as firm yuk-getters in countless Apatow and American Pie-type comedies (respectively). It’s no surprise they get the job done here. Christopher Mintz-Plasse turns the McLovin down to about three in Role Models and pretty much secures his status as this century’s definitive cinema nerd (unfortunately, Chris will probably experience the same employment blackout Anthony Michael Hall endured once he hit adulthood—don’t worry, Minty-Plaz, your “Dead Zone” is just a decade away!). The real joy of this film, though, is Bobb’e J. Thompson, the hilarious knee-high I hereby dub the Pride of Kansas City.

Thompson’s rambunctious presence in Role Models evokes happy memories of a pre-Boomerang Eddie Murphy and insures the pint-sized laugh factory will be working for at least the next three to five years. In fact, I think I know why Eddie Murphy isn’t funny anymore—the comedian sold his soul to the Devil in 1996 in exchange for one last huge success (The Nutty Professor). In return, Ol’ Hickory stuck Murphy’s soul into the newborn body of Bobb’e J, who scripture predicted would rise up and conquer Hollywood just Eddie’s career hit rock bottom.

And so it has come to pass. While the former “Saturday Night Live” superstar literally and figuratively flounders around inside his own head these days, Bobb’e J. Thompson eviscerates every other actor in sight with his (once Murphy’s) impeccable timing and delivery. What I’m trying to say is I’m going to legally adopt Thompson and make him re-enact Beverly Hills Cop every day in my living room. I’m sure that would be much less expensive than just buying the DVDs. I just gotta find a geeky white kid to play Judge Reinhold’s part and some weirdo Greek to do the whole Serge thing. Once the tots have it down, I’ll take ’em on the road and make a killing in the flyover states. After five years I’ll retire a zillionaire and my children will be free to go. This plan has no flaws.

The rest of Role Models is padded out by—surprise!—a somewhat sub-par love story subplot and a handful of Wain’s “State” buddies. Ken Marino doesn’t look a day over 1995 as McLovin’s step-dad, and who doesn’t love a heaping helping of Joe Lo Truglio? I wasn’t thinking about it too much at the time, but now I have to wonder why Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter were absent from these proceedings. Maybe they both have some kind of “No Stifler” clause in their contracts. Who knows. I’ll have to ask Mike and Mike the next time I run into them (which, based on my experiences so far, will be never).

FINAL SCORE: Three and a half unreal birth names (out of four).

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