A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that even though the cast includes young kids, this crass, Judd Apatow-esque comedy about dysfunctional mentors bases much of its humor on gross-out situations, sexual innuendo (as well as a little partial nudity), and near-incessant swearing. Old, young, man, woman -- everyone seems blessed with a potty mouth. Grown-ups discuss sex and other adult topics with children, many of whom seem incorrigible and precocious. There's also some drinking and discussion of drugs. It's all played for laughs, but it's not meant for kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Danny Donahue's (Paul Rudd) life is about to go from bad to worse. He's bored in his dead-end job selling energy drinks to school kids, and his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) -- fed up with his constant whining -- seems ready to leave him. Thinking marriage will liven things up, he proposes -- but she says no and breaks up with him instead. With his vulgar-but-sweet coworker Wheeler (Seann William Scott) by his side, Danny goes ballistic, ramming his work truck into a statue and tussling with the cops. The brouhaha lands them at Sturdy Wings, a Big Brother-type organization where they must perform community service by logging 150 hours as mentors to two kids: Augie, (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) a teenage nerd determined to spend life in a fantasy world, and Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), an insulting, potty-mouthed 10-year-old. Will they ever get along, and can they all learn from each other?
Is it any good?
Loud, lewd, formulaic, and, yes, hilarious, ROLE MODELS is a mish-mash -- everything from medieval reenactments to middle school shares screen time -- that's hugely fun to watch. Rudd is a malcontent extraordinaire. Danny is joyless, picks fights with baristas over how their coffee is named, delivers anti-drug speeches as if he's heavily tranquilized, and can't be bothered to act like a decent boyfriend. But here's the thing: No matter how crass and negative he gets, he's still likeable, and Rudd's innate amiability serves him well in the role. Scott has a little less to work with -- he ratchets up the doofus level a bit too much -- but he still manages to be winning.
That said, it's the "little brothers" -- they call them "littles" -- who steal the show, especially Thompson, who seems, in the best way, a loose little cannon (his command of swear words shocks and awes). As the loopy, edgy Sturdy Wings director, Jane Lynch is inspired casting, but Banks is window dressing, as is some of the crazy-quilt plot. Bottom line? Role Models is no comedy classic (Judd Apatow, you can keep your crown), and sometimes it feels like director David Wain barely retains control. But funny? For the most part, it is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Danny and Wheeler are good role models. If yes, why? If not, why not?
How would you describe their relationships with the kids they're
supposed to mentor?
Is their transformation believable? Families can
also discuss Danny's dilemma: How can you be joyful when you feel
defeated and frustrated?
Also, how does this movie fit in with other
recent "hard-R" comedies? Is it as raunchy?
Do you think it's meant to
appeal to the same audience?
- In theaters: November 7, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: March 10, 2009
- Cast: Jane Lynch, Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott
- Director: David Wain
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content, strong language and nudity
- Last updated: September 24, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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