Saturday, February 21, 2009

Role Models

Dorks Leading Dorks

No man is an island, and deciding to be miserable all the time is not going to make life any easier. You'd either grin, bear it and look on the bright side, or stay a sour puss and irritate everyone with that attitude. Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are colleagues who are pimping an energy drink for 10 years, one the evangelist who preaches, while the other prances around in the mascot Minotaur suit.

Unhappy with having nothing to show for, and going through the motions day after day, Danny finally snaps one fine day in a moment of madness, and the duo gets offered a choice of either jail time, or community service hours. Not wanting to be raped in jail (yes, it's that insane), they opt for community service, and get thrown into a baby-sitting service where adults volunteer time to spend with children who are a little bit special. In that sense, Wheeler gets to be the buddy of Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson), whose mouth is way bigger and vulgar than his size, while Danny got to pair up with Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse of McLovin fame from Superbad), the nerd whose life revolves around a fantasy cosplay world whose players gather in a park to enact their medieval dreams.

Needless to say this comedy relies plenty on the pairing of misfits to draw some laughter, and I'd admit I got the kicks out of that little swearing kid with a penchant for boobies. And faster than you can say "formula", you can bet your last dollar that amongst the pair they will learn how to trust, respect and eventually learn from each other. After all, that's what friends are for. And adding to the humour in almost every scene she's in is Jane Lynch as the founder of the Big Brother program, being an ex-con/abuser/etc who can smell BS from a mile away, the bane of both Danny and Wheeler.

While one can stay almost one step ahead all the time in what the story would throw up next, the delivery here mattered, and thankfully none of the actors here irritated nor put you off their characters. What worked also were the plenty of sly, subtle jokes that flew by, some which would have you do a double take in "did they really say that?", and the numerous references on pop culture, and the more obvious dig on the metal band KISS.

Elizabeth Banks might have been given the role of her life thus far in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, though here she plays the obvious second fiddle in a negligible supporting role as the girlfriend of Danny who dumps him because of his negativity. Paul Rudd seems stuck in playing characters who have indifference for breakfast, while Sean William Scott is pretty much typecasted already, with almost each role being a dude. Time for him to try and break out of that mold, if at all possible. Not that I'm complaining of course.

But the two boys literally stole the thunder here with their crazy antics, with Ronnie the outspoken boy who shoots his mouth off, while Augie is the exact opposite in his more hesitant and timid performance. Those familiar with Superbad will spot Mr McLovin here as Augie. If not for the language and nudity, this would make it somewhat of an above average comedy that all ages could enjoy. So pity the kids would miss out on cursory messages like leading the life you want to and to stand up for yourself, while the rest of us who are in the mood for some laughs, may want to check this out. As the saying goes, nothing fancy, but surprisingly it works.

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