You'd think two men whose job is to deal with children on a daily basis wouldn't have too much trouble when they're forced to be mentors to two young teens. Except, when one acts like an overgrown horn dog and the other suffers from too much sardonicism and a blooming, mid-life crisis, there lies a few troubles.
Before I go into the details of this film, the true origins of this film go back to 1993 on a little known MTV series called The State. It was a 30-minute, sketch comedy series not unlike Saturday Night Live, In Living Color, Upright Citizens Brigade or Kids in the Hall. It's where two actor-writers met, Ken Marino and David Wain. Both were excellent, very funny and very smart. After the show ended in 1995, the two along with some of their former cast teamed up to do a movie called Wet Hot American Summer (2001).
It's there where the two met up-and-coming, comedic actor Paul Rudd. Rudd had appeared in Clueless (1995) and The Cider House Rules (1999). That 2001 film was what put him on the map with a lot of people. Rudd then became a regular in a series of Judd Apatow movies including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007).
Wain who directed Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer tapped the witty, young comedic actor to headline his next project The Ten (2007). The film was written by both Wain and Marino and was basically a series of ten comedy sketches all dealing with one of the Ten Commandments. Wain and Marino also have small acting roles but Rudd was their star. Rudd had a prominent role in I Could Never Be Your Woman (2008), but this film is the first in which Rudd is actually the star, the out and out lead actor who not only headlines but whom the story is about.
Rudd stars as Danny Donahue, a 35-year-old sales rep for Minotaur energy drink. His job is to visit various schools and give a spirited sales pitch to a bunch of teenage kids.
Sean William Scott (American Pie and The Rundown) co-stars as Wheeler, the guy who tags along if only to dress up as the Minotaur mascot and be a sort of cheerleader. Wheeler doesn't have to speak, doesn't have to think. All he does is put on a silly costume and dance, which basically means throwing his hands up and gyrating a bit.
Wheeler is perfectly content with the job. Yet, Danny is not. Danny is not happy doing the same brainless job day after day. Instead of doing anything substantive about it, he only complains.
Elizabeth Banks (Heights and The 40-Year-Old Virgin) plays Beth, Danny's girlfriend and lawyer, the one to whom he complains the most. Eventually, she can't take it anymore and says that he's a "miserable dick" who's in a rut. Danny's immediate solutions don't exactly help matters.
To fix a dilemma into which Danny literally drives both himself and Wheeler, Beth puts the pair into a program called Sturdy Wings. It's a mentorship deal like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Older men and women spend time with children or teens who perhaps need extra support that they can't get from home for some reason or another.
Jane Lynch (The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Best in Show) plays Gayle, the founder of Sturdy Wings, a former cocaine addict who doesn't take any BS from anyone. Lynch is insanely funny.
Gayle hooks two guys with children whom she knows will be a challenge to them. She sets Wheeler up with Ronnie, a very foulmouthed, angry, black kid who is a self-proclaimed booby watcher. Wheeler, however, could teach him a thing or two, when he's not explaining the sexual innuendo of KISS songs. Played by Bobb'e J. Thompson who has been a working child actor on various TV shows and films for five years now, Ronnie exists to say the most outrageous thing possible. Because it comes from such a little black kid, it's supposed to have more shock value, except it only becomes annoying after a while. He's like the mini-me version of Samuel L. Jackson.
Meantime, Danny is hooked with Augie, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who was first introduced to us as McLovin' in Superbad (2007). Augie wears a cape and participates in a fantasy role playing game with a bunch of wide-ranging nerds and geeks. It basically kneels before an Asian guy who dresses like the Burger King.
As one can imagine, Augie is a little shy and awkward around girls. Mintz-Plasse's character in Superbad was a bit bolder, but Mintz-Plasse's role here is more involved, more realized, and perhaps better written. His father is played by Ken Marino, one of The State players who's tall, handsome, and seemingly mild-mannered, a contradiction to his son, but Marino has a somewhat Leslie Nielsen quality about him that's not Mr. Magoo-ish here but ignorantly course, especially toward his son. But, Mintz-Plasse basically steals the show with an ending that was a lot more riveting than any comedy this year.
But, again the true standout is Paul Rudd. He's brilliant. His one-liners, riffs and reactions to these situations are hilarious and if you go, go for him. Rudd is a comedic star that you must see shine.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated R for crude language, sex and nudity
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.