"Role Models" is a one-joke movie, but it's a funny joke. The film stars Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott as Danny and Wheeler, two guys who work as representatives for an energy drink. They spend their days going from school-to-school - one of them dressed up as a minotaur - and do "Say No to Drugs" PSAs that are actually just opportunities to promote their energy drink as a "safer" alternative to doing drugs.
Outside of work, Danny has grown unhappy - he's grown unhappy with his job and the stress has caused his relationship with Beth (Elizabeth Banks, who continues to be typecast in these semi-thankless roles) to go sour. After the two break up, they get in trouble with the law after a traffic "incident" and are sentenced to 150 days in community service.
The service worker (Jane Lynch) goes on what they know, and assigns them to work with two troubled kids - Wheeler gets Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson, in a scene-stealing performance) and Danny gets Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, "Superbad"). Augie's an unhappy kid who spends most of his days playing a live-action role-playing game similar to "Dungeons and Dragons", while Ronnie has more than a little problem with bad language.
Getting back to the one joke, "Role Models" tries to get laughs by having adults (and the occasional kid) curse and made crude wise-cracks at one another. While this could have gotten tiresome quickly, former "State" member (and "Wet Hot American Summer" director) David Wain (who also co-wrote with Rudd and Ken Marino) manages to give the characters a bit more depth and heart than one might expect from this sort of movie.
While the kids are only viewed as an irritation by Danny and Wheeler at first, a genuine friendship starts to occur as the days pass. Rudd and Scott offer terrific performances, each doing an excellent job handling the film's balance of crude, edgy humor and heart. Although the picture does add a few cliches into the mix, there are some pleasant surprises, such as the fact that the movie doesn't look down upon Augie's like of role-playing games - if that's what he enjoys, that's what he enjoys. The characters in the film are all flawed in some way or another, but the movie doesn't look down upon them.
"Role Models" rarely got a huge laugh out of me (although the KISS army at the end in a role-playing match is pretty hysterical), but it managed a consistent series of chuckles and was sweet without being sentimental.
The DVD includes both the rated and unrated (3 minutes longer) versions.
VIDEO: "Role Models" is presented by Universal Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is acceptable, with sharpness and detail that maintain an average appearance throughout much of the movie, with only a few scenes looking a touch softer than the rest.
Some minor edge enhancement and artifacting was seen during a few scenes, but didn't pose much of a distraction. The print appeared to be in excellent shape, which is what one should reasonably expect from such a recent theatrical release. The film's warm color palette appeared accurately presented, with no smearing or other faults. Overall, this was a firmly average presentation.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is wholly and completely a "comedy mix", with hardly any use of the surrounds. The presentation remained dialogue-driven throughout and audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: Director's commentary with David Wain, "On the Set of Role Models" featurette, bloopers, "In Character and Off Script" (improvs), nearly 20 deleted/extended scenes and "Game On: Creating a Role-Playing World".
Final Thoughts: "Role Models" may not deliver too many huge laughs, but it offers consistent chuckles, as well as a good balance of humor and genuine heart, not to mention fine performances. The DVD offers satisfactory audio/video, as well as a nice set of bonus features. Recommended.
The Film B+