Roles Models: Five Card Dud

Posted November 6, 2008 in Film

Five people wrote this comedy and there’s nothing to say about it. Two jack-offs, Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny (Paul Rudd), shill for the energy drink Minotaur at elementary school anti-drug rallies, which are really just excuses to get kiddies hooked on taurine. Wheeler’s just another thinly-written horndog, the kind of role Scott’s been playing since the ’90s, even though films like The Promotion show he’s capable of better. He’s really only a foil for Rudd’s Danny who’s been miserable for years—10 of them spent selling his soul for Minotaur. When long-term girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) dumps him after too many hostile outbursts, Danny goes on a energy drink rampage that climaxes five minutes later with him crashing the Minotaur mobile (a monster truck with a nose ring) on a school mascot.  


Sentenced to 30 days in jail or 150 hours mentoring for Sturdy Wings, Wheeler and Danny pick the kiddos and then nothing much happens until the climax. Under the tyranny of Study Wings founder Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch), an ex-addict always crudely shoving her coked-out past into conversations, Wheeler is paired with Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a tiny kid who cusses like a sailor’s parrot. I was worried about young Thompson’s future for a minute as his character’s vocal obsessions appear to be tits and Martin Lawrence, but then found out that he’s a 12-and-a-half-year-old who only looks five. He’ll still discover girls years before Danny’s protégé Augie (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the infamous McLovin of Superbad) who’s twice Ronnie’s apparent age. Continuing in the grand footsteps of Screech, Urkel, and Napoleon Dynamite as a typecast geek who’ll eventually have to repudiate stardom if he ever wants to get laid, Mintz-Plasse wears a cape and plays LAIRE, an interactive anachronistic medieval battle world.


The script by Rudd, Ken Marino, Timothy Dowling, W. Blake Herron, and director David Wain can hardly rouse itself to make any plot points or even any jokes. For that matter, Wain seems uninterested in direction his own flick. Still, it’s not complete torture as even when exerting minimal effort, Paul Rudd is still hilarious. Here, he hardly cracks a one liner or rouses his expression from a frown—it’s the ultimate in inert comedy. His character could have been cast with an eggplant, though it’s nice to have Rudd instead. His scenes with Ken Jeong as the despotic King Argotron of LAIRE, who forces his dorky, middle-aged minions to salt his food and feed it to him, don’t have many laughs, but have the pleasant tension of waiting to laugh at a punch line that never comes. Like Rudd, no one in the ensemble except young Bobb’e J Thompson and Lynch gives the flick their all; they give it enough—no more, no less. And if movies were free, it wouldn’t matter, and someday, like sands through the hourglass, it won’t matter on a Saturday afternoon cable channel that Role Models is only mediocre—no train wreck, no treasure, just background noise to a hangover and a pizza. 


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