In the rules of watching comedy, it’s always best to stick to the mantra “never watch comedies featuring children or animals”. Chances are they’ll be annoying, either with a gang of kerrrrazee kids causing havoc for some befuddled adult, or a doggy doing kerrrrazee things like humping legs or pulling people off chairs by running away. Hilarious! If you’re seven years old. And stupid.
Role Models does feature children, but easily side steps the usual child-comedy pitfalls by having its children say stuff like “fuck you”. Neat! It’s co-written by Paul Rudd, the sardonic best friend as seen in Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, Anchorman and, um, Romeo & Juliet. His incredibly dry humour litters the script, with quips laid out so quickly and flatly they’re often easy to miss. Mixed with naughty toilet humour it makes the majority of Role Models into a deliciously dirty comedy, more so when it features lots of kiddy winks.
Bad boys Danny (Rudd) and Wheeler (a nicely buff Seann William Scott) are forced to carry out community service, being “best friends” for some pretty weird children. There’s Augie, a bespectacled fantasy obsessed teen played by Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse who is now cemented as the go-to for your general nerdy needs. And Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson – yes, that’s a deliberate hyphen in the middle of Bobbe. He must be pretentious), a foul-mouthed, boobies obsessed young ‘un, who frankly steals the show but could also be verging on a horrendous ethnic stereotype.
There’s a great supporting cast, particularly Jane Lynch as the insane child centre leader, granted playing a character she’s played many times before, but hell she plays it bloody well. There are also some amusing set pieces, such as the camping trip, and Paul Rudd’s bleak take on life always raises a smirk (“It's not that I don't like you, I just don't like to eat with other people”). But – and I’m sure you could detect a ‘but’ coming here – Role Models starts off strong and then suddenly twists into something, well, a bit weak. From dirty adult humour to suddenly a sports-movie-esque quest, with a swift focus on Augie’s role playing battle club type thing. Everyone comes together to help defeat the evil “king” in a big, mock battle scene and… hang on. Weren’t we watching a good comedy on two guys, one a women-obsessed lads lad, and one a dishevelled 30-something depressed at life? Weren’t we laughing at how much they didn’t really care, and how twisted their approach was to looking after two kids? Since when did we care about a fantasy role-playing battle? Since when did it turn into a mushy romance?
Alas, its decline into mediocre battle / romance slosh dampens the comic edge and catapults any real character arc into blando “ooo I do love my woman really” or “um… I haven’t changed at all and was just here for the ruder bits”. Add a couple of unnecessary boob shots and you’ve tainted it with teen boy humour ala “Sex Drive” rather than the suggested quality comedy stock expected from Rudd. As such, Role Models does raise a fair few titters, but by featuring some real life titties and having a plot that goes tits-up it slumps down to a CF0, clinging to a recommendation because it’s a fun Saturday night filler, but failing to raise enough of a chortle to be a great comedy.