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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The perfect Role Model for Hollywood movies

Published: November 14, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

There are three rules that I think are very important to keep in mind when one starts to write reviews. 

First, take a stand (this is obvious). Second, the review should be about the item under evaluation and not so much about the reviewer’s life (it is, however, acceptable to utilize the people in your life as well as personal experience if it helps better the argument one is trying to make).

Finally, (and I think this is probably the most important point) using cute wordplay on the title of the product to explicitly make a point is never good. For example, with the movie Superbad, it is not okay for the reviewer to say in his final sentence (or anywhere else in the review for that matter) “Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are truly Superbad.” It isn’t funny, it isn’t cute, and quite plainly, it’s lazy.

I cannot say how angry it makes me when I read some supposed entertainment scholar pull this ploy as a way to conclude or state his overlying thesis. That being said, David Wain’s Role Models is the perfect role model for Hollywood movies today (see how I did that?).

Starring Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott, Role Models tells the story of two energy drink salesmen who, in order to stay out of jail, must complete 150 hours of child mentoring. Of course, these men aren’t exactly mentoring material (one of them hates the world, and the other is obsessed with the female anatomy), but because their children aren’t exactly normal either, they somehow connect. 

Christopher Mintz-Plasse (don’t call him McLovin) plays a nerdy teenager who has an affinity for a game I can only try to describe as a live-action Lord of the Rings with foam swords. Bobbe J. Thompson plays the scene-stealing nine year old, who also has an attraction to the female anatomy. If you ever wondered how much a child can curse in 90 minutes, this is the movie to watch. 

Although none of the actors truly go against type (almost ten years after American Pie, Scott is still playing his Stiffler role) each one of them falls comfortably into his character and remains enjoyable throughout.

The movie does a great job of avoiding the sentimental tear jerking moments for which the movie initially seems to have been created. What could have been a 90-minute after-school special becomes a test of how well David Wain can balance comedy and drama. Wain orchestrates the emotions of the viewer with precise precision. In one scene, two characters trade dialogue about the importance of friendship (dramatic). Then, very quickly, the viewer is treated to one of those characters receiving a swift punch to the nuts (comedy). 

The ability of the movie to quickly move from seriousness to humor is a testament to the script (Paul Rudd) as well as to the talent of the cast. In this way, the movie follows closely in step with the classic Jack Black movie School of Rock (realize, however that School of Rock is a classic; Role Models, while a solid, fun movie, is not). 

The avoidance of cheap, schmaltzy scenes in a clearly comedic movie is something that Hollywood writers should take note of when they watch Role Models.

Using the title of Wain’s movie as a way to strengthen the thesis and conclude this article would be an easy way to finish this critique. However, I have two reasons why I won’t use this ploy to conclude this review. The first reason is that I already did it in the opening paragraph (and even then, it wasn’t funny). The second reason is because it is lazy, and lazy is something that the writers of “Role Models” were not. Thus, I will end with my hope. My hope is that writers and directors study more movies like this one (movies that under different direction could have failed) to ensure that the quality of films made today become stronger.

In other words, Role Models is the perfect role model for Hollywood.