The popular 2008 film, Role Models, is now streaming on Netflix. It’s directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and written by a team consisting of Timothy Dowling, Paul Rudd, and Ken Marino. The movie stars Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Seann William Scott (The Rundown), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Bobb’e J Thompson (30 Rock), and Jane Lynch (Glee).
Role Models follows the story of two Minotaur energy drink salesmen for whom nothing is going according to plan. Danny, portrayed by Paul Rudd, and Wheeler, portrayed by Seann William Scott, have the worst possible day they could have, culminating in an accident in the company vehicle, complete with a ridiculous paint job and very large bull horns.
Paul Rudd’s Danny learns all about LARPing in Role Models streaming on Netflix.
Thanks to the efforts of Danny’s recent ex-girlfriend, Beth, the pair receives 150 hours of community service at Sturdy Wings instead of 30 days in jail.
Sturdy Wings is a big brother, big sister program with Gayle Sweeney (Jane Lynch) at its head. She assigns the pair to children who have had difficulty keeping a role model partner and uses the threat of jail time to keep them from abandoning their charges.
Wheeler is assigned to Ronnie (Bobb’e J Thompson), who is a foul-mouthed preteen with an attitude problem. Danny is assigned to Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is obsessed with a Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) game called Laire. Neither adult is overly enthused by the situation, but the threat of jail is enough to make them at least try to be role models, eventually finding enough common ground to build relationships with the boys.
Through some terrible choices made by the adults who were meant to be role models, Danny and Wheeler break the trust of their charges and their families, nearly landing themselves in jail. Instead of trying to weasel their way out of jail, the men instead put the effort into making the relationships right.
Paul Rudd was added to the writing team sometime in 2007 after being asked to write a new draft of the movie under the title of Little Big Men.
In the end, it is the head of the Sturdy Wings program, Gayle Sweeny, who tips the scales. Seeing the hard-to-pair kids with adults who actually show some potential to be those role models, they’re supposed to have her smoothing things over with the judge and keeping them out of jail to complete their community service hours.
Live Action Roleplaying (LARPing) plays a big part in Role Models. The detailed world of Laire and the politics and rules of play are well thought out. The penultimate battle is fun, melodramatic, and engrossing. The LARP game portrayed isn’t a real game but made up for the movie.
And while it isn’t exactly accurate, there are a number of elements that are. Accuracy, in this case, isn’t the point.
The happy ending comes with a side of lessons learned and some ridiculous but wonderful costumes. Role Models is more about understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness and less about trying to be perfect in the representation of the LARP.
Role Models went through several iterations prior to production, originally titled Big Brothers. Paul Rudd was added to the writing team sometime in 2007 after being asked to write a new draft of the movie under the title of Little Big Men. By the time it premiered on November 7, 2008, it had its final official title.
While it couldn’t quite beat Madagascar: Escape to Africa, the movie did premier in second place with $19.2 million and a successful total box office of $92.5 million worldwide.
Generally well received, Role Models has a rating of 77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a viewer score of 74 percent, with most of the low reviews being from people who don’t like this type of comedy. This brand of comedy isn’t for everyone. Roger Ebert gave it a serviceable 3 stars for being a funny comedy, and Rolling Stone gave it a positive review despite being “shamelessly stoopid.”
Role Models, currently available on Netflix, is an accessibly funny movie, serving fans of both the slightly vulgar, inappropriate comedy and very silly childish humor.