Release Date: March 10, 2009
Starring: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch and Elizabeth Banks
Screenplay by: Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino and Timothy Dowling
Directed by: David Wain
Role Models is a deliberately low-brow comedy that has a few genuine laughs here and there, and a heart that it occasionally brings to the surface to offset the ruder jokes and references sprinkled throughout. It’s a kind of cross-breed between the low-budget indie comedy work done by David Wain over the past few years and the current crop of Judd Apatow comedies regularly coming out these days. The script is a group effort from Wain and Paul Rudd, among others, and it basically follows two young thirty-somethings who must do community service in a “Big Brother” – styled program with two young misfits as their “littles”. From that scenario, which initially doesn’t yield much material, the film brings out some surprisingly gentle humor and eventually a deeper affection for the characters that makes this film worth watching. And if the viewer gets bored, the film throws in a cameo by Ken Jeung, and supporting turns by Elizabeth Banks and Jane Lynch that are worth the time to see.
The DVD submitted for review here is the Unrated Edition, which includes both the theatrical cut and a slightly longer one (by three minutes) that adds some extra bits but nothing beyond the bounds. (For the record, I watched the longer version only – and saw nothing past the warnings already on the DVD packaging.) In addition to both versions of the film, the DVD also includes a scene-specific commentary by David Wain (for the theatrical version only), along with some deleted scenes and extensions, a few bloopers, two featurettes and some in-character improvs by three of the supporting cast members.
VIDEO QUALITY: 3/5
Role Models is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that is identical for both versions of the film presented here. There is a pretty wide range of color and flesh tones on display here, along with some solid black levels for the night scenes. For sheer variety, the most interesting visual material here comes in the medieval role-playing sequences, where the frame is filled with a variety of different costumes and makeups, all of which are served well by this transfer.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5
Role Models is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English, French and Spanish that primarily works in the front channels for the dialogue, but activates the subwoofer and the rear channels for the rock music and the occasional surges in the score. The most prominent use of the subwoofer probably comes with the “Minotaur” truck that makes strategic appearances in the film.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 3/5
Role Models contains several special features: a commentary track with director David Wain, deleted scenes, bloopers, two featurettes and three in-character improvs by supporting actors in the cast.
When the first disc is put into the machine, non-anamorphic trailers are presented for the DVD release of Bring it On: Fight to the Finish, the Wanted: Weapons of Fate video game, the usual anti-smoking PSA, the Blu-ray release of The Fast and The Furious, and the upcoming NBC series Kings.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the deleted scenes. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference.
I should also mention that an online game has also been made available at the film’s website for those really interested in this sort of thing: Babe Watcher Game . I haven’t tried it myself, but fans of the film are welcome to check it out for themselves.
IN THE END...
Role Models holds some surprises in the midst of what one would expect from a current rude-form comedy, namely a genuine affection for its characters and some honest displays of heart that don’t normally appear in these films. Fans of David Wain’s comic stylings or of the current crop of Judd Apatow comedies may enjoy this film, as will many other people who might not have expected to do so.
March 8, 2009.
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