You could have fooled me, but Role Models, despite starring a whole cavalcade of talent from Judd Apatow films, actually was not touched by him at all. With Paul Rudd in the lead (an Apatow favorite) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks, and Ken Jeong just a few of the Apatow cronies that showed up in Role Models, it was no wonder that the film likely received a warmer reception at the box office than it would have had the familiar talent not all gathered together under one roof. With a modest budget of under $30 million, Role Models went on to triple its budget worldwide; not bad for an R-rated comedy.
Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are two salesmen who trash a company truck on an energy drink-fueled bender. Upon their arrest, the court gives them a choice: do hard time or spend 150 service hours with a mentorship program. After one day with the kids, however, jail doesn’t look half bad. Once the center’s ex-con director (Jane Lynch) gives them an ultimatum, Danny and Wheeler are forced to tailor their brand of immature wisdom to their charges. And if they can just make it through probation without getting thrown in jail, the world’s worst role models will prove that, sometimes, it takes a village idiot to raise a child.
Trailers were all I’d seen of this film before I ended up seeing it in theaters. I’d heard from friends about its hilarity and while an outing to the theater to see Four Christmases was intended, the plan eventually deviated for part of the group as the theater that was showing Four Christmases smelled like gas and my idea of a good time at the theater did not involve inhaling a lethal substance. In the end my brother and I ended up going into Role Models, which thankfully didn’t smell like a toxic wasteland, and soon the only gas we smelled was our own, caused by our exasperated laughter.
Ok, so we didn’t really laugh that much (and nor do I actually remember there being any fart jokes in Role Models, but it was a natural gas joke—I can’t not be expected to follow through with that), but Role Models was hilarious. I was already a huge Paul Rudd fan, but the man continues to be one of my favorite comedic actors of all time; sure, there’s probably a mancrush going on there, but the man is just damn hilarious and I’ll watch pretty much anything he’s in (case in point: The Ten, which was actually written and directed by David Wain, who also wrote and directed Role Models). When paired with Seann William Scott, who hasn’t had much of a genuinely funny since American Pie, the pair just made for an absolute riot of a time. Not to mention Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson) and Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who helped keep the scenarios unique and fresh.
In fact there really wasn’t much about this film that didn’t work. It never dragged, it kept a brisk pace and it had the same type of Apatow feel in terms of crude characters who learn a valuable lesson in life and eventually grow as human beings because of it. That’s what’s so enjoyable about these types of films; they send you into fits of laughter but manage to maintain some heart at the end for you to latch onto. Honestly most of that stemmed from Rudd and Plasse’s characters, although I have to say the battlefield stuff got to be a bit much, as I almost felt it was a little too nerdy, but I guess that was all part of the setup.
The unrated version of the film included on this set is not anything major and really only adds more jokes and vulgarity to the mix, which the film already had copious amounts of. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to add more and I don’t really feel different towards the film having seen more of it, so in that regard the two cuts really aren’t that much different. Just more of the same, really.
Overall Role Models is an absolutely terrific film that will always have a space on my shelf. Really good comedies are hard to come by and Role Models, for me, fit the role perfectly. Great leads, fantastic supporting actors and overall just a wonderful time all around. Plus that Ronnie has such a foul mouth on him, one can’t help laugh your ass off at him. Highly Recommended.
Role Models arrives on the Blu-ray format in a standard Elite case without any slipcover or notable inserts (the only insert is the usual Universal Blu-ray format advertisement). Disc art mimics the cover art and the menu system starts out by offering you the choice of rated or unrated version. As is the case with most of these unrated R-rated comedy releases, the differences between the two cuts is minor, as there are only 3 additional minutes of footage added. Pretty minor stuff.
The video is presented in a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer that is, thankfully, leagues better than the other recent Universal comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. While Marshall was flat and dull, Role Models is clean, with solid depth to the picture and plenty of detail (check out those chainmail costumes!) all around. Audio is a crisp and clear DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that, as expected, brings to life the comedy in the front channels. Of course this film is a great deal more “epic” in the sound department, with the party sequence and battle bits having a decent surround mix to accompany the film.
There is a pretty decent selection of extras (all in HD) to check out, with the list starting at a lengthy load of Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes (49:50). This is basically like watching the movie in fast mode as there is a lot of material here that is repeated from the film with alternate takes. Fans of the Apatow films will recognize this as a form of the “Line-o-rama” segments that are so popular on his home video releases. Next is a short Bloopers (3:55) that is absolutely hilarious (though, as always, I wish there was more) and a series of small featurettes. On the Set Of (7:41) takes a brief look at the film’s production while Game On (9:44) discusses the very real sport of full-costume role playing. In Character and Off Script (8:08) takes a few of the more eclectic characters from the film and sets them in front of the camera to rattle on about…a whole range of topics.
Ye Olde Crest Maker allow you to make your own crest, if you’re into that kind of thing. But the biggest extra is actually the last one on the list: Feature Commentary with director/co-writer David Wain. I’ve long been a fan of Wain (and you probably have been too, you just don’t know it—the man has had his hands in everything) and this track was a real treat to listen to. He’s genuinely passionate about the film, although some of his commentary is a bit generic and by-the-books. He does chime in about stuff like re-shoots and additions to the script, however, so that’s a nice little insight into how it was made.
Overall a solid package all around. The disc is brimming at the seams as it fills up 41gb out of the 50gb allowed on the disc. The extras aren’t many, but what’s there is well worth watching and the commentary is worth a listen. Most importantly, however, is the film. It’s absolutely hilarious and the unrated/rated versions are really too similar to pick one over the other. Unrated just because there’s more to laugh at, but the additional footage doesn’t necessarily detract or add to the film. In the end it doesn’t matter which version you watch—you’ll be in tears by the end of it anyway. Highly Recommended.
Role Models: Unrated arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on March 10th.