Movie News & Reviews

'Role Models' tries to ape Apatow

I've been racking my brain trying to come up with more to say about "Role Models" other than it's Judd Apatow Lite. But hey, sometimes, you just have to call 'em like you see 'em.

With its penchant for humor that's raunchy and vulgar yet sweet and reality-grounded, not to mention a cast that includes several key Apatow repertory players, "Models" is, much like Kevin Smith's recently released "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," the latest flick to ape Apatow's formula for comedic, cinematic success. (And just like "Porno," it also stars the omnipresent Elizabeth Banks as a love interest.)

"Models" has Apatow vet Paul Rudd and lowbrow-humor vet Seann William Scott as Danny and Wheeler, guys whose day jobs consist of visiting schools and hawking energy drinks to smart-mouthed kids. This begins to take its toll on Danny, as an authority-defying, company truck-trashing run-in with the cops leaves both of them with two choices: either do time in jail or do 150 hours of community service.

Needless to say, they choose the latter. They're sent to Sturdy Wings, a mentorship program led by an incessantly sunny, ex-con recovering addict (the always-batty Jane Lynch), where they are paired up with some socially inept, at-risk kids. Danny has to get chummy with Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse -- yes, McLovin is back in the heazy!), a hopelessly nerdy kid obsessed with medieval role-playing, while Wheeler has to deal with Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a pint-sized, persistently profane menace who is more potty-mouthed than Millie Jackson and Clarence Carter combined.

Just like nearly all of the movies Apatow has had a hand in, "Models" is another story of men stuck in an arrested-development rut. Rudd's Danny becomes such a miserable misanthrope, taking his lack of a productive life out on anybody in his direction, that he's skipped middle age and went straight to cranky old man mode. Scott's Wheeler is the opposite, as he scores with ladies and listens to Kiss endlessly in an effort to maintain his awesomeness. Of course, hanging with these kids will teach them that there's more to life than being insufferable tools.

While it's practically unapologetic in its predictability, "Models" isn't that bad of a movie. "Wet Hot American Summer" director David Wain (stepping up from intolerable to tolerable after last helming "The Ten") hits you with foul-mouthed jokes and dirty-minded gags you'll definitely see coming. But still, you find yourself actually looking forward to them. If there has ever been a movie whose humor can be best described as reliably sophomoric, it's this one.

It's the enjoyable third act (not to give anything away, but funny costumes and fake swords do come into play) that saves "Models" from becoming yet another silly, otherwise unremarkable film that bites Apatow's style. "Role Models" may not be the genuine article, but it's an acceptable facsimile to tide you over until Apatow drops another film -- which will probably be any moment now.

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