At The Coliseum: "Role Models"

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Much of the cast from David Wain's first film Wet Hot American Summer reunites for his Apatow-esque third feature Role Models. But the magic and originality of Wain's directorial debut are nowhere to be found in this formulaic and overly raunchy buddy comedy.

Within the first five minutes, it becomes abundantly clear that Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are closer to teenagers trapped in grownups' bodies than actual role models, but this doesn't prevent the film from driving that point home, one lewd joke at a time, for the next hour and a half. 

During an introduction in which the duo is seen promoting their company's energy drink "Minotaur" and telling a group of high schoolers to "stay off drugs," Danny refers to the product in private as "nuclear horse piss" while Wheeler smokes a joint. These moments foreshadow the fact that that pretty soon, something's gotta give.
After Danny's girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) not only rejects his marriage proposal but also dumps him on the spot, he has a mid-life crisis and crashes the company truck on school property while Wheeler sits shotgun. The result is 150 hours of court-ordered community service at the Big Brother organization "Sturdy Wings," which both men must complete or serve 30 days in jail.

At Sturdy Wings we meet Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a mischievous, foul-mouthed fifth-grader; Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad's McLovin), a cape-wearing 16 year-old obsessed with a medieval role-playing game and the program's director Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch), who steals the show as a recovering drug addict with a penchant for recounting graphic anecdotes from her rock bottom past. While Danny tries to help Augie fit in ("People tend to avoid people in capes," he says), Wheeler endures Ronnie's attempts to get him kicked out of Sturdy Wings and thrown in jail. There is inventive slapstick humor and amusing dialogue throughout (as well as a consistent theme of cleverly disguised homoeroticism), but the film's failed attempts at effective punch lines make it stumble gracelessly from scene to scene.

Although Rudd delivers a convincing and animated performance as a hopeless sap turning over a new leaf, William Scott fails to break out of his skirt-chasing "Stifler" persona from the American Pie movies. His motto when it comes to women is, "You gotta hit it and quit it."

Despite some hilarious moments, usually involving Ronnie and Augie cursing like old men while Danny and Wheeler act like bratty teenagers, the film never strays far from the recently fashionable "kidult" genre and is too reminiscent of other Frat-Pack studio films to make it anything more than the latest installment. Although certainly an effective high-concept comedy, as a film, Role Models has a lot of growing up to do.

Role Models is currently playing at the Coliseum Theater on 181st Street and Broadway. 

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