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Mainstream wannabe

(Universal Pictures)

Movie

Mainstream wannabe

Paul Rudd film relegates itself to raunch ghetto

If talent, good looks, and comedic timing were all that it took to rise to the top in Hollywood, Paul Rudd would be a much bigger star. His way with a one-liner makes him every bit as funny as Ben Stiller or Jack Black. And his everyman charm makes him come off like an edgier, more sarcastic version of Tom Hanks. So why isn't Rudd a household name? His latest production, Role Models, provides a pretty good explanation.

Certainly Role Models has its funny moments, almost all of which are attributable to Rudd. But like nearly every comedy he has starred in, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to Knocked Up, his latest places a heavy premium on R-rated material. As a result, a premise that could be mainstream-an unhappy slacker gets a new lease on life after being sentenced to participate in a Big Brother program-is instead relegated to the raunch ghetto.

Throughout Role Models I couldn't help being reminded of Jack Black's 2003 blockbuster, School of Rock. Throw away the explicit and not particularly funny sex scenes, the drug use, and the children using language that would make a gangsta rapper blush, and Role Models boasts some of the same loopy fun. The relationship between thirtysomething energy drink peddler Danny (Rudd) and medieval-role-playing teenager Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, last seen as McLovin in Superbad) plays out in hilariously original ways. At times it's even sweet. But the cringe-inducing moments in between will offend anyone who isn't an adolescent (or adolescent-minded) boy and will likely keep Rudd from seeing the same success Black experienced. Should he ever decide to branch out to films the whole family can enjoy, audiences (not to mention his bank account) will thank him for it.