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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
David Wain
Cast:
Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Ken Marino, Kerri Kenney, A.D. Miles
Writing Credits:
Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino, Timothy Dowling (and story), W. Blake Herron

Tagline:
Danny and Wheeler were just sentenced to 150 hours mentoring kids. Worst idea ever.

Synopsis:
When two salesmen trash a company truck on an energy drink-fueled bender, the court gives them a choice: do hard time or spend 150 service hours with a mentorship program.

After one day with the kids, jail doesn't look half-bad.

Box Office:
Budget
$28 million.
Opening Weekend
$19.167 million on 2792 screens.
Domestic Gross
$67.266 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 99 min. (Theatrical Version)
102 min (Extended Cut
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 3/10/2009

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer David Wain
• Deleted Scenes and Alternative Takes
• Bloopers
• “On the Set of Role Models” Featurette
• “Game On: Creating a Role Playing World” Featurette
• “In Character and Off Script” Featurette
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


Role Models: Unrated (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 2, 2009)

Today’s biggest surprise: Judd Apatow played no role in the production of 2008’s Role Models. One look at the film and it screams “Apatow”. It’s a hard-“R” comedy, stars Apatow regular Paul Rudd, features Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad, and includes other Apatow staples like Jane Lynch and Ken Jeong. How could it not come from the Apatow factory?

Role Models introduces us to energy drink salesmen Danny (Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott). Wheeler loves the job, but after a decade with the company, Danny worries that his life is going nowhere and he’s stuck in a rut. To break out of this, he proposes to long-time girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks), but this doesn’t go well. She’s fed up with the cynical misanthrope he’s become and she dumps him.

Hopped up on “Minotaur”, Danny responds poorly to an attempted towing of the company truck. Damage ensues, so both he and Wheeler get sentenced to community service to work off their crime.

This lands them a sentence as “big brothers” through a group called “Sturdy Wings”. Program leader Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch) assigns Danny to Augie (Mintz-Plasse), a nerd totally devoted to fantasy role-playing. Wheeler gets Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed brat. The guys try to cope with the challenges presented by their “littles” and escape unscathed.

If you desire a deep, intricate plot, Role Models isn’t the place to look. In truth, the story exists as little more than a general framework to set up a variety of wacky episodes. Sure, Danny gets something of an arc, but even that’s nothing more than a conceit created to plop him in his dire straits.

And all of this offers good fun much of the time. Of course, we get stuck with the inevitable sappiness when Danny and Wheeler grow fond of their “littles” and undergo personality growth. That side of things made the film’s second half less enthralling, as Models amuses best when it stays simple and crass.

A fine cast helps make the flick more entertaining. Will you see Rudd, Scott or any of the others break a sweat? No – all of the participants have played enough similar roles that nothing here requires them to stretch horizons.

But that’s fine, as the various participants mesh well and create amusing performances. Rudd gets some of the best material, though Lynch gives him a run for his money. She’s stolen many a movie, and she darned near does it again here. The way she spouts bizarre platitudes and recovery mumbo-jumbo means that all of her scenes entertain.

Role Models follows a lot of predictable paths and never quite emerges as a great comedy. Nonetheless, it boasts more than a few funny sequences, and it creates an enjoyable experience. Don’t expect anything great, but you’ll get good comedy here.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Role Models appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though always watchable, the transfer seemed ordinary.

Sharpness varied. Most shots demonstrated good delineation, but more than a few exceptions occurred. Wide shots tended to be somewhat soft and fuzzy, so they created occasional distractions. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but edge enhancement cropped up through the film; I noticed moderate haloes a fair amount of the time. The flick also tended to be a bit grainy, but other source flaws failed to appear.

Colors looked fairly ordinary. The image took on a golden tone much of the time, but the image stayed with a pretty natural impression. The hues seemed acceptable but they weren’t particularly strong. Blacks appeared reasonably dark and tight, while shadows showed decent delineation; some low-light shots were a bit too thick, though. All of this was good enough for a mediocre “C+”.

I also thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Role Models remained unexceptional, though it worked better than the visuals. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of comedy, and I got exactly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day. Surround usage stayed limited; the back speakers gently fleshed out various settings but did little more than that.

In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. The track functioned appropriately for the story.

Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, though I noticed a little edginess at times. Effects were a minor component of the mix, and they seemed appropriately subdued and accurate; there wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct. The music came across as acceptably distinctive. This was a standard “comedy mix” and became a decent reproduction of the material.

We get a pretty good mix of supplements here. The DVD includes both the theatrical and unrated versions of Role Models. The former runs 99 minutes, while the latter goes for 102 minutes. I watched the extended cut here, and I never saw the theatrical edition, so I can’t compare the two. I wanted to mention the presence of both versions, though.

We find an audio commentary from director/co-writer David Wain. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that look at the project’s origins and development, script and alterations made along the way, cast and characters, performances, improvisation and reshoots, costume and production design, editing and deleted scenes, and other production topics.

Expect a fine commentary here. Wain provides a solid look at his movie, as he digs into a mix of interesting subjects. He does so with enthusiasm and humor, so he makes it a fun ride as well. This becomes a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying discussion.

19 Deleted Scenes and Alternative Takes fill a total of 24 minutes, 20 seconds. It’s clear that these weren’t cut for content, as most are quite amusing. Not a lot of plot material shows up here, though some scenes indicate that Danny and Wheeler were fired after their escapade; the final flick allows them to retain their jobs, so it’s clear that’s why those sequences – which include Wheeler at his new job – got the boot. As for the others, I’d guess most were time cuts, and some are alternate versions of existing segments. They prove consistently enjoyable.

More footage appears in Bloopers. This three-minute and 52-second reel offers some of the standard goofs and giggles, but it also includes quite a few alternate lines. That factor elevates it above the usual nonsense and makes it worth a look.

Three featurettes follow. On the Set of Role Models goes for seven minutes, 41 seconds and includes notes from Wain, co-screenwriters/actors Ken Marino and Paul Rudd, producers Scott Stuber and Mary Parent, and actors Elizabeth Banks, Seann William Scott, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Bobb’e J. Thompson, and Jane Lynch. The show looks at script/story elements as well as cast and performances.

At no point does “Set” become a deep program, but it’s a fine view of the production. How can I dislike a featurette that starts with shots of actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse flicking Rudd’s nipples to make them hard? The participants provide a little info and some laughs, and the show throws in enough cool shots of the set to make this a good piece.

Game On: Creating a Role Playing World lasts nine minutes, 46 seconds and features Rudd, Mintz-Plasse, Kenney-Silver, Wain, Stuber, Banks, Scott, Marino, LARP technical advisor Adrianne Grady, fight coordinator Jeff Imada, costume designer Molly Maginnis, assistant costume designer Nanrose Buchman, and actor Ken Jeong. This one looks at the various aspects of the movie’s live role playing scenes. It’s a bit scattershot but it includes enough useful details about the various elements to allow it to succeed.

Finally, In Character and Off Script runs eight minutes, seven seconds, and breaks into three areas. We find “Sturdy Wings Salutes: Martin Gary” (2:41), “Kuzzik: Proud Zanthian” (2:58) and “Davith of Glencracken” (2:30). In these, we get improvised pieces with the various actors in character; in these, we find AD Miles (“Martin Gary”), Joe Lo Truglio (“Kuzzik”), and Matt Walsh (“Davith”). I wouldn’t call any of these classics, but all produce laughs.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Bring It On: Fight to the Finish, the Wanted: Weapons of Fate videogame, Kings and the Fast and the Furious trilogy on Blu-Ray. No trailer for Role Models appears here.

At no point does Role Models do a whole lot to differentiate itself from the many other raunchy comedies of recent years. Nonetheless, it proves consistently enjoyable and amusing, largely due to many solid performances. The DVD provides mediocre audio, decent audio and a worthwhile collection of supplements. Neither the disc nor the movie excels, but both satisfy enough to earn my recommendation.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6428 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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