Role Models is a 2008 American comedy film directed by David Wain about two energy drink salesmen who are ordered to perform 150 hours of community service as punishment for various offenses. For their service, the two men work at a program designed to pair kids with adult role models. The film stars Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks and Ken Jeong.
Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are two energy drink salesmen who promote a drink called "Minotaur" to school children, and encourage kids to stay off drugs. Wheeler loves the job, but Danny hates it, viewing it as a mindless, dead-end job. Danny's pessimism results in the collapse of his relationship with lawyer Beth Jones (Elizabeth Banks), after he impulsively proposes to her. After one presentation the duo find that their Minotaur truck is being towed, as they were parked in a no-parking zone. They try driving the truck away from the tow truck, damaging the tow truck, nearly running over a security guard (Louis C.K.) and crashing into a statue. They are arrested as a result.
Beth strikes a deal with the judge in which they have to log 150 hours of community service over the next 30 days, in lieu of 30 days in jail. The judge selects for their community service a big-brother style program called Sturdy Wings, led by Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch), a recovering addict. Gayle instantly dislikes the two and warns them that if they fail to carry out their tasks she will have them imprisoned. Wheeler is paired up with Ronnie Shields (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed streetwise miscreant obsessed with breasts, who has driven away all the other "Bigs" he has been paired with. Danny is assigned Augie Farques (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a nerdy teenager obsessed with medieval live action role-playing games.
Danny is unable to find common ground with Augie. Ronnie takes virtually no interest in Wheeler. Danny considers choosing the jail sentence, but Wheeler insists that if they go to jail, they will get raped, which Wheeler is strongly against. They gradually bond with their "littles". Ronnie takes an interest in Wheeler's favorite band, Kiss, and discovers that Wheeler shares his obsession with breasts, which Wheeler teaches him to control. Danny and Augie bond when they realize that they are both involved in the Sturdy Wings program against their will, and as a result Danny joins Augie's live action role playing game, "LAIRE" (Live Action Interactive Role-playing Explorers). Despite their successes, Danny attempts to reconcile with Beth, but to no avail (Beth must commit to the break-up, stating that it is for the best).
However, their success is cut short. When Augie manages to sneak up on the King of LAIRE, Argotron (Ken Jeong), the King lies and tells everyone that he killed Augie. Danny, backing up Augie, shoves the King, and gets himself and Augie banned from LAIRE forever. Later, Danny insults Augie's mother and stepfather for refusing to support Augie's hobby, earning their animosity. As soon as Augie's parents kick Danny out of their house, Danny retorts, "I'd be psyched if he were my kid." Meanwhile, Wheeler takes Ronnie to a party and leaves him unsupervised, resulting in Ronnie walking home alone and a series of angry messages from his mom on Wheeler's cell-phone. Ronnie and Augie's parents ask Sturdy Wings for new mentors, and Danny and Wheeler are removed from the Sturdy Wings program, thus failing to complete their community service. Beth says that she will defend Danny and Wheeler in court, but cannot make any promises, as they will eventually be sent to jail. Danny and Wheeler argue and go their separate ways.
Danny convinces King Argotron to allow himself and Augie to fight that afternoon in the much-awaited Battle Royale. Wheeler gets permission from Ronnie's mother to hang out with Ronnie after he gets out of jail, and earns Ronnie's forgiveness. However, the King secretly warns the other members of Augie's LAIRE "country" of Xanthia that allowing Augie to fight with them will lead to severe retribution in the game. They call Augie to tell him he's too much of a liability and he has nowhere to turn. To form a new LAIRE country, Danny and Augie need four members and matching costumes. Danny asks Wheeler and Ronnie to join them. They arrive with Wheeler's Kiss costumes and a Kiss-themed Minotaur truck, naming their new country "Kiss-My-Anthia". After a betrayal by his former Xanthian allies, Augie finally duels with the king, defeating him. A hidden player, Sarah (Allie Stamler), who goes by Esplen in LAIRE, then attacks and defeats Augie; she is crowned the new queen and chooses Augie as her king-consort. Augie's parents forgive Danny.
Impressed with having seen that Wheeler and Danny do care for the children and not simply themselves, Sweeny clears their names with the judge. Danny serenades Beth with a rendition of the Kiss song "Beth" and they finally reconcile.
- Paul Rudd as Danny Donahue
- Seann William Scott as Anson Wheeler
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Augie Farques
- Bobb'e J. Thompson as Ronnie Shields
- Elizabeth Banks as Beth Jones
- Jane Lynch as Gayle Sweeney
- Ken Jeong as King Argotron
- Kerri Kenney-Silver as Lynette Farcques
- Ken Marino as Jim Stansel
- Nicole Randall Johnson as Karen Shields
- A.D. Miles as Martin Gary
- Joe Lo Truglio as Michael Kuzzik
- Vincent Martella as Artonius Kuzzik
- Matt Walsh as Davith of Glencracken
- Alexandra "Allie" Stamler as Sarah/Queen Esplen
- Jessica Morris as Linda the Teacher
- Carly Craig as Connie
- Keegan-Michael Key as Duane
- Amanda Righetti as Isabel
- Jorma Taccone as Mitch from Graphics
- Armen Weitzman as Party Dude
- Elijah Polanco as Ronnie's Friend
- Nate Hartley as Rule Master
- Louis C.K. as School Liaison
The film was originally announced in December 2006 under the title Big Brothers, with Luke Greenfield directing and Timothy Dowling writing the script. A January 22, 2007, draft of the script credits Moses Port and David Guarascio as writers, with no listing of Dowling. During promotion for the film Knocked Up, Paul Rudd revealed that shooting on Big Brothers was on hiatus while the script was being retooled. News was later revealed that Rudd was commissioned to write a new draft of the script and David Wain had signed on to direct. Wain later revealed the film was now titled Little Big Men. UniversalPictures.com listed the film under the final title Role Models, which made its release on November 7, 2008. It was pre-screened at the University of Maryland's Hoff Theater on October 30, 2008 to positive accord.
A running gag in the movie is a song entitled "Love Take Me Down (to the Streets)", which is claimed by one character to be by the band Wings. In the initial scene at the Sturdy Wings building, Martin begins singing the song, which he claims is "one of their hits from the 70s", a fact which Danny denies. This is a minor recurring joke throughout the film. During the credits, the song plays and is listed on the film soundtrack as being performed by "Not Wings." The song was written by Charles Gansa, a composer who worked on the film, and A. D. Miles, who plays Martin in the film. It was written to imitate the style of the music of Wings and performed by Joey Curatolo, a Paul McCartney soundalike who performs in the Beatles tribute band Rain.
Box office performance
Role Models opened #2 at the box office behind Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa with $19.2 million. The film made a total of $67,300,955 domestically and $25,201,210 in foreign countries, for a total of $92,502,165 worldwide.
Role Models was met with generally positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 77%, based on 158 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Role Models is a frequently crude, always funny comedy with the cast providing solid work throughout." On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 61 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally positive reviews".
In their year end review, IGN awarded Role Models with "Best Comedy Film of 2008". Eye Weekly selected Role Models as one of the best films of 2008.
The DVD was released on March 10, 2009 selling 1,028,207 during its first week generating $17,469,237 in revenue. As of August 10, 2011 the DVD has sold 2,555,713 copies and over $40 million in revenue.
The DVD includes:
- Audio commentary by director Wain - theatrical version
- Deleted scenes and alternate scenes
- 4 featurettes
The Blu-ray features all of the DVD features with U-Control and BD Live Features.
- Official website
- Role Models at the Internet Movie Database
- Role Models at AllMovie
- Role Models at Box Office Mojo
- Role Models at Rotten Tomatoes
- Role Models at Metacritic