I liked Role Models. It’s a breezy and funny time at the movies. Granted, it’s a pretty close carbon copy of Judd Apatow’s recent hit films, but that seems to be a comparison the makers wear on their sleeves. The film features Apatow regulars like Paul Rudd and Elisabeth Banks, however these two stars have worked with Models director David Wain longer. They both co-starred in Wain’s 2001 debut feature, Wet Hot American Summer, where Rudd makes out with Banks and mutters to her the quotable line “You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.”
David Wain’s sensibility as a director is much more abstract than Apatow’s, and he has won fewer fans as a result of it. Wet Hot and his follow-up film, The Ten, are cult hits rather than mainstream success stories. They steer close to the Monty Python chaos of Wain’s 1990s comedy troupe, The State (who created an equally polarizing sketch series for MTV). Role Models, though, is where Wain steps it up. I’m sure Universal was watching him closely, but I can’t help but feel that Role Models will be just as much a platform for the director’s success, as it will for any of the talented actors onscreen.
The film’s sense of humor (Wain also co-wrote the script with Rudd and collaborator Ken Marino) is still very adult and littered with obscure and odd moments that don’t normally wind up in big studio comedies. Among them, a bevy of KISS-related plot points and a random Marvin Hamlisch reference. It is Wain’s most commercial film, but he doesn’t completely lose touch with his absurd DNA. Role Models won’t be a classic in either the Apatow or Wet Hot vein, but I can’t wait to see what sort of doors it opens for Wain.
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