The American cinema runneth over with tales of nerdy outcasts who find improved self-esteem at the hands of an inspirational figure. Thankfully, this is not one of those movies. Instead, improv comedy vet Wain’s inspired third feature turns the whole pious, “be yourself” genre deservedly on its ear with its cheerfully irreverent tale of two disillusioned energy-drink salesmen (Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott) who run afoul of the law and get sentenced to community service in a Big Brothers–esque youth mentoring program (run by a hyper-intense ex-addict played brilliantly by Jane Lynch). Barely able to manage their own stuck-in-reverse lives, the pair suddenly find themselves charged with shaping the future of a foul-mouthed fifth grader (scene-stealing Bobb’e J. Thompson) and a shy teenager (Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin) obsessed with a medieval role-playing game called LAIRE. But who’s really mentoring who? Packed with sidesplitting set-pieces, and guided by a genuinely sweet (but never cloying) temperament, Role Models is one of the standout Hollywood comedies of recent vintage.
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