Role Models: Unrated [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (21st April 2009).
The Film

I've always liked Paul Rudd as a comedic performer, his role on "Friends" (1994-2004) was likable enough and his supporting roles in a series of Judd Apatow productions further showcased his talents. However, I believe Rudd is only as good and funny as the quality of his co-stars. Check out the scenes in "Knocked Up" (2007) and take out Seth Rogen and cast a lesser comedic performer and I guarantee the scenes wouldn't have come off as funny as they had. This is the case with "Role Models" a comedy that falls a little flat mainly on the backs of its stars... Seann William Scott isn't as funny as expected and his pairing with Rudd just doesn't work here. As I watched the film I couldn't help but think that there was something missing, a spark between co-stars, some ingenious improv etc.

"Role Models" tells the story of two energy drink employees, Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott), they travel from school to school promoting anti-drug campaign while selling their brand of drink to the youth market. When on one bad day, Danny is dumped by his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) and he crashes the company truck on a sugar-high bender. The two are arrested and are given a choice, jail or join a mentorship program called Sturdy Wings run by an ex-criminal/drug user Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch). The guys are paired up with two kids, a role-playing nerd Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the wise-talking Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson). They have to make it through 150 hours of mentorship or they go to jail and must adjust their crazy ways to be decent "Role Models" but things get a little complicated and supposed hilarity ensues.

Forget the fact that the story is pretty stupid, on paper "Role Models" could have been a hilarious film, with director David Wain attached I was relatively excited, his involvement in the short lived "Stella" (2005) series was brilliant and I actually liked "Wet Hot American Summer" (2001), plus as I mentioned before Rudd can be pretty good. But nothing struck the right tone here, the cast seemed criminally mismatched, there was no genuine chemistry between William Scott and Rudd. Their relationship feels forced and for characters that have worked with each other for as long as they have it's a massive problem.

To make matters worse, neither of the characters were actually likable or interesting. This comes as a fairly big shock considering Rudd is usually likable. They are not loathsome characters, the film's tone could have easily ended up like "Bad Santa" (2003), Wain decided to go in a lighter direction (in terms of tone) despite it's 'R' rating with more focus on the crude and sexual humor and language to round out the jokes. I must admit some of the gags in the film were moderately funny but never enough to actually be memorable in the long run. I watched the film only a few hours ago and I'm struggling to remember the 'best' bits.

I did enjoy some of the supporting cast, Bobb'e J. Thompson as the wise-cracking Ronnie was enjoyable enough, but I do have a soft spot for kids with fouls mouths, Jane Lynch brings her usual brand of improvisation to this film and her scenes are just great, playing on her dark past and the juxtaposition of her current life make for some funny lines, a couple of my favorites are: "Me and the judge have a special relationship... I don't wanna get too graphic but I sucked his d**k for drugs" and "You know what I used to have for breakfast? Cocaine. Know what I had for lunch? Cocaine" and her demonstration of a proper hug is also a stand out moment of the film.

Unfortunately no matter how hard these two tried to add some funny to this film, overall "Role Models" just didn't gel enough for me. The film made some decent coin and received some favorable reviews so there's an audience for this film and if you enjoyed it in theaters then a purchase might be in order, if you're new to this film then a rental is advised.

This disc includes both the film's original 'Theatrical Cut' version and the slightly longer 'Unrated' version as well.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression. The film looks great, the image maintains a consistent level of sharpness. I was impressed with the overall detail, textures hold up especially in the close-ups. This HD image is clean from any flaws, no dirt, no specks, no compression problems and no edge-enhancement. The colors are solid and vibrant, blacks are deep and skin tones appear natural. Overall this is a pleasing top notch image.

Audio

There are three audio tracks here in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as DTS 5.1 tracks in both French and Spanish. This is a comedy, so the sound mix is rather limited in it's scope. You're not going to get anything like action movies. However, the mix does an effective job of presenting the film, while dialogue maintains front heavy the film does feature some ambient sound and score that utilizes the surround channels. The overall depth isn't as impressive as I would have liked but the track services the film and appears immersive enough.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Universal has released this film with an audio commentary, a series of deleted and alternate scenes, some bloopers, five featurettes, a picture-in-picture commentary and some BD-Live features. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we've got a feature-length audio commentary by writer/director David Wain. To begin with I hoped that some of the cast could have been involved in this track as well as the director, it's not that he doesn't provide a decent enough track but some interaction would have been nice. Wain remains fairly screen-specific as he comments on the story, scenes that were cut out and getting to the main story elements of the film. He comments on the production design especially of the Minotaur Mobile and the L.A.I.R.E. costumes. He takes us through the development of the film, from it's early script staged through to his and Rudd's involvement. He comments on the creative input of the film, on working on a studio film and with the cast as well as on the reshoots among other things. Wain provides a fairly informative track and maintains a light and occasionally funny tone.

A total of 40 deleted scenes and alternate takes are first up, these scenes can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option the total run time of these scenes is 49 minutes 49 seconds. It's pretty obvious why these scenes were cut out as they add every little or nothing to the overall film (although one scene I actually found funny "The Getting-to-Know-You Ball" should have been kept the film) the scenes included are:

- "The Night Before" which runs for 3 minutes 18 seconds, this scene is a house party montage.
- "Dick Knocker" which runs for 27 seconds, a couple of skateboard kids call Danny a dick knocker while he's waiting for Wheeler.
- "In the Minotaur Mobile" which runs for 27 seconds, additional moments featuring the two guys in the truck.
- "T-Shirt Gun" which runs for 12 seconds, in this scene Danny shoots a T-shirt out of the window of the truck.
- "Taste the Beast" which runs for 9 seconds, more moments in the truck as Wheeler yells out the window to 'taste the beast.'
- "Gotta Pee" which runs for 13 seconds, Wheeler is busting for a pee and Danny refuses to pull over.
- "Gimme Some Free Shit" which runs for 15 seconds, Danny shoots a T-shirt at some guy's head.
- "Wheeler Loves His Job" which runs for 20 seconds, Wheeler bangs a girl over the photocopier.
- "Coffee Shop" which runs for 58 seconds, extended version of the scene at the coffee shop with Beth and Danny as she tells him off about his crappy behavior.
- "Security Guard" which runs for 1 minute 8 seconds, Wheeler gives Danny some advice and they encounter a difficult security guard.
- "Jail" which runs for 38 seconds, extended scene of the two guys sharing a jail cell, Danny asks some cell mates to shiv him.
- "The Getting-to-Know-You Ball" which runs for 2 minutes 51 seconds, the guys take part in an exercise at sturdy wings.
- "Buddha on TV" which runs for 16 seconds, Wheeler gives Danny more advice, this time from Buddha who he saw on television.
- "Chip Monk Charlie's" which runs for 2 minutes 52 seconds, the guys take the kids to a theme restaurant.
- "Wheeler Meets Karen" which runs for 3 minute 1 second, in this scene Wheeler meets Ronnie's mom and they flirt with each other.
- "Ronnie Farts" which runs for 23 seconds, Ronnie tells Wheeler to respect his fart.
- "Why?" which runs for 29 seconds, Ronnie responds to everything Wheeler says by saying "why" all the time.
- "Danny and Beth Coffee Shop Alternate" which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds, this is another scene with Beth and Danny at the coffee shop as he tries to reconcile with her.
- "Ronnie and Augie at Campground" which runs for 48 seconds, the two boys talk about their dad's and on their role model mentors.
- "Duane’s Ghost Story" which runs for 4 minutes 36 seconds, Duane (Keegan Michael Key) tells an inappropriate ghost story around the campfire.
- "Boobie Class" which runs for 1 minute 16 seconds, Wheeler fields some questions about girls.
- "The Soccer Mom" which runs for 56 seconds, Ronnie hits on a soccer mom.
- "Party Dude" which runs for 17 seconds, Ronnie walks into a room full of people doing drugs and making out at the party.
- "Looking for Ronnie" which runs for 1 minute 13 seconds, Wheeler tries to find Ronnie after loosing him at the party and gets help from Danny.
- "Dinner Scene" which runs for 47 seconds, an extended scene at Augie's house for dinner with Danny defending him.
- "Wheeler and Danny Fight in Lobby" which runs for 1 minute 14 seconds, the two guys nitpick about each other's annoyances.
- "Chip Monk Locker Room" which runs for 1 minute 12 seconds, Wheeler and Kayleigh (Rashida Jones) in the locker room as Wheeler realizes he screwed things up with Sturdy Wings and that he misses Ronnie.
- "Burger Hole" which runs for 2 minutes 37 seconds, Danny's medieval costume is mocked by the King (Ken Jeong) and his men at the burger hole.
- "Karen and Wheeler at L.A.I.R.E." which runs for 1 minute, Karen tries to touch up Wheeler's make-up.
- "Taking Off Makeup" which runs for 23 seconds, the guys take off their make-up after the mock-battle.
- "Davith and Beth" which runs for 1 minute 14 seconds, Davith (Matt Walsh) hits on Beth at the post-battle party.
- "The Post-Battle Battle" which runs for 41 seconds, Danny, Wheeler, Augie and Ronnie have another battle.
- "Jim and Sweeny" which runs for 11 seconds, Jim (Ken Marino) asks Gayle if she's a squirter.
- "Wheeler’s Advice" which runs for 33 seconds, Wheeler dishes out more advice to Danny about sex.
- "Mitch Reacts to Wheeler Saying 'My Dick'" which runs for 15 seconds and a series of reaction shots from the over excited intern.
- "Wheeler Hits on Gretchen" which runs for 51 seconds, Wheeler chats up a hottie at the office party in these alternate takes.
- "Green Piss" which runs for 2 minutes 43 seconds and is more of the guys pissing green fluids with additional improved lines.
- "Duane and His Little" which runs for 1 minute 24 seconds, Wheeler meets Duane and the kid he's mentoring.
- "Danny’s Drink Choices" which runs for 27 seconds, these are alternate takes at the theme restaurant of Danny ordering drinks.
- "Reactions to 'Beth'" which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds, is a series of reaction takes of the crowd as Danny sings the song at the after-battle party.
- "L.A.I.R.E. Music" which runs for 1 minute 14 seconds and are some alternate takes of music from the L.A.I.R.E. participants.

Next up is a bloopers reel that runs for 3 minutes 50 seconds, these are fairly usual clips of flubbed lines, missed cues and laughing in the middle of a take. There's some funny stuff here but it's mostly forgettable.

“On the Set of Role Models” is a short featurette that runs for 7 minutes 40 seconds. This is a standard making-of EPK clip that features the cast and crew on set making the film, fooling around and shooting scenes. There's the usual talking head interviews and behind-the-scenes clip and takes a look at the crude language of the film and on their involvement in the film, on working with each other and the comedic shorthand they have with each other among other things.

“Game On: Creating a Role Playing World” is the next featurette and runs for 9 minutes 43 seconds. This clip takes a closer look at interactive role playing games and how the filmmaker's went about creating the world of these characters, this includes the costumes and weapons among other things this includes on how it's based on real role playing games. This was a largely enjoyable clip with some laughs to be had.

3 "In Character and Off-Script" featurettes follow, these are some short clips of actors in character and provide some background on the character. These clips can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option with a total run time of 8 minutes 7 seconds, they include:

- "Sturdy Wings Salutes: Martin Gary" this clip runs for 2 minutes 40 seconds.
- "Kuzzik: Proud Xanthian" this clip runs for 2 minutes 58 seconds.
- "Davith of Glencracken" this clip runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.

"Ye Old Crest Maker" interactive feature allows you to create your own L.A.I.R.E. crest.

There are some Blu-ray exclusive extras that include a "U-Control" Picture-in-Picture video commentary for those with profile 1.1 players or greater. This feature includes pop-up videos of the cast and crew taking us through the production as you watch the film. There's some good stuff here but the regularity could be more consistent as there are some gaps in-between the video segments.

You can also use the “MyScenes” feature to bookmark your favorite scenes from the film for quick access.

Finally there are some BD-Live features for profile 2.0 players only and include:

- “My Scenes” sharing allows you to share your favorite scenes with others online.
- Downloadable featurettes and trailers features some cool clips you can download straight onto your player's hard drive.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: A+ Audio: B Extras: B Overall: B-

 


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