Movie of the Week: Role Models

After shifting to some classic dramatic material last week, we decided to go back to modern comedy for a more relaxed night this time around. While Shiran doesn’t have much experience with David Wain outside this film, I have none whatsoever, so we figured that Role Models would be a good place for me to start before we both finally take the plunge on Wet Hot American Summer. And based off of this, that is a plunge we should both take soon.

In my mind I’ve always associated Role Models with I Love You, Man, which was one of our Movies of the Week last year (and which I also found very enjoyable). But while I Love You, Man has always struck me as I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Apatow (which is not a knock on director John Hamburg, who has inexplicably not been able to make a feature film since I Love You, Man), Role Models certainly had a voice of its own, one that showed a different sort of goofy positivity than what I’d associate with the Apatow Universe. And while Seann William Scott has the standard man-child character arc of most R-rated comedies of late, Paul Rudd’s arc as Danny is not only different but also very relatable to me at the moment.

In the movie he is, rather than an immature childish idiot, an average working guy who is bitterly angry with his lot in life, to the point that he’s lashing out at people around him whether they have anything to do with his problems or not. He’s not some class clown that’s avoiding responsibility; rather he’s an unmotivated adult who’s suddenly realized how little he’s accomplished in his life and is furious about it. His frustration with the people around him comes from the fact that everyone else in his life seems assured of who they are and what they want, and it annoys him that he can’t say the same. He acts contentious with Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Auggie because Auggie is unreserved in his passions and knows what he wants out of life, something that Danny hasn’t felt in awhile. This happens to mirror a similar sort of malaise I’ve felt on and off at times since my graduation, and once again serves as a reminder to stay unapologetic about who I am. And while that might sound wishy-washy, I definitely found the LARP finale (and all the KISS stuff) incredibly satisfying, and a great example of what unironic passion looks like.

As for Shiran’s reaction:

Role Models has a pretty generic plot and a formulaic structure, so I’m always forgetting how good a movie it really is. The performances are great, there are a lot of laugh out loud moments, and the plot goes to comfortably expected places in somewhat silly ways. There’s not much else needed for me to enjoy a comedy, but Role Models is also fairly sweet and sincere. Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Auggie is probably the most fully realized character in the movie, and I love that he introduces roleplaying as a road to self-realization and improvement for the other characters.

Next week will be a foreign film again, but since it’s coming from me instead of Shiran it will be less emotional complexity and more zany genre antics. Stay tuned!


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