Tag Archives: Ken Jeong

Role Models (2008, David Wain), the unrated version

Role Models is shockingly good. It fuses the inappropriately blunt comedy genre with a listless thirties white men growing up genre. The result is a constantly funny film–I mean, it’s Seann William Scott swearing at kids… from the two minute mark–with a solid emotional core. And it’s never artificial.

Scott isn’t the lead (though he gets top billing), rather Paul Rudd. Rudd plays a miserable thirty-something, depressed over the lack of substance in his life (of course, he’s ignoring having a grown-up relationship with lawyer girlfriend Elizabeth Banks), who lands he and Scott in trouble.

Their punishment? A Big Brother program.

The film overcomes its occasional contrivances–besides Banks being a lawyer to represent Rudd and Scott, the midsection has a painful juxtaposition of both men realizing they aren’t being the best Big Brothers they could be. But Wain, whose strength as a director is making the absurdities wholly believable, keeps the sequence going until it works.

Scott is hilarious–he’s playing his American Pie role aged–but Rudd makes the film. He doesn’t worry about being appealing, since Scott fills that function, instead selling the character’s developing self-awareness.

As their charges, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb’e J. Thompson are both good. Mintz-Plasse probably gives a better performance, but Thompson is funnier.

Banks is solid too, grounding the film.

The supporting cast is excellent, Jane Lynch and Ken Marino in particular. Especially Lynch.

Role Models is earnest and thoughtful. It’s a fantastic grown-up comedy.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by David Wain; screenplay by Paul Rudd, Wain, Ken Marino and Timothy Dowling, based on a story by Dowling and W. Blake Herron; director of photography, Russ T. Alsobrook; edited by Eric Kissack; music by Craig Wedren; production designer, Stephen J. Lineweaver; produced by Luke Greenfield, Mary Parent and Scott Stuber; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Paul Rudd (Danny), Seann William Scott (Wheeler), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Augie), Bobb’e J. Thompson (Ronnie), Jane Lynch (Sweeny), Elizabeth Banks (Beth), Ken Jeong (King Argotron), Joe Lo Truglio (Kuzzik), Ken Marino (Jim Stansel), Kerri Kenney (Lynette), A.D. Miles (Martin), Matt Walsh (Davith of Glencracken), Nicole Randall Johnson (Karen), Alexandra Stamler (Esplen), Carly Craig (Connie), Jessica Morris (Linda the Teacher) and Vincent Martella (Artonius).


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The Hangover (2009, Todd Phillips)

Huh. Either blockbuster comedies are getting better or I’m getting stupider. The Hangover is actually a rather neat narrative–it’s kind of like Memento if Memento wasn’t like a concept episode of “Miami Vice.” There are some questions of the film’s sexual politics–apparently going to Vegas and carousing with strippers is okay for certain married men to do, but not others (the more callous the man, the more permissible), but whatever. It’s not like there’s a joke about physically abusing spouses or anything.

Oh, wait, yeah, there is.

But it’s hardly anymore despicable than its peers and it does have that neat narrative structure, kind of like a film noir, only sunny and a gross-out comedy.

I’d heard a lot about Bradley Cooper, but he really doesn’t seem like much other than a less creepy, more greasy version of Ralph Fiennes. A more commercial Ralph Fiennes. He’s fine and he can get some of the jokes done, but it’s Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis who deliver actual laughs. Cooper’s role could have been a standout, but he’s just not dynamic.

Helms and Galifianakis, while funny, don’t exactly deliver a lot of solid acting either (Helms isn’t believable as a dentist–he’s the “Office” guy, nothing more) and Galifianakis is doing a bit. So, strangely, Heather Graham comes off as the most professional actor in the film. She’s utterly fantastic.

Phillips is an okay director. Not sure if he needed Panavision for anything but his ego, but who cares?

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Todd Phillips; written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore; director of photography, Lawrence Sher; edited by Debra Neil-Fisher; music by Christophe Beck; production designer, Bill Brzeski; produced by Phillips and Daniel Goldberg; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Bradley Cooper (Phil), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Heather Graham (Jade), Justin Bartha (Doug), Rachel Harris (Melissa), Mike Epps (Black Doug), Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid) and Mike Tyson as himself.


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