The 2008 film Role Models stars Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks, and more.
Scott and Rudd are Danny and Wheeler, promoters for the Minotaur energy drink who end up doing stupid comedy things and get sentenced to do 150 hours of community service.
Danny and Wheelerare paired with youths in the Sturdy Wings program (in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mode). The overall message of the film is ‘find something you love and be happy with it and with who you are.’
The part of the film most interesting to me is the depiction of geeks and geekdom. In the plot with Danny and Mintz-Plasse (aka McLovin’ from Superbad). Mintz-Plasse is Augie Farks, a bespectacled teenaged role-player who does boffer LARPS (Aka hitting your friends with padded weapons).
Augie’s mother and step-father/mother’s boyfriend look down at Augie’s hobby and want Danny to help them bring Augie into the ‘real world’ — but they do so without having ever gone to watch Augie at LAIRE (Live Action Interactive Roleplaying Explorers). Danny too is initially put off by Augie’s hobby, but after watching and then partaking, he sees the ways that LAIRE provides a social outlet for Augie, allows him to channel his passion into something that encourages exercise (even light exercise) develops skills (Augie sews/embroiders a badge for Rudd to wear), and is the place where he sees his crush, Esplen/Sarah. Danny urges Augie to talk to Esplen/Sarah rather than just longing after her from afar.
Overal, the representation of geekdom and boffer LARPs is even-handed to positive. The people involved are clearly having a great deal of fun with their hobby, with a large, active, and welcoming community. Some take things very seriously, to the detriment of others’ experience, but that happens everywhere. Danny’s embracing of LAIRE helps bring both pairs together at the end. Augie’s mother and step-kinda-not-actually-father see the group playing at the end, see how much it means to Augie, and come to appreciate it (and him, for who he is).
There’s a great exchange between Danny and one of the LAIRE players that captures the fun aspects of LAIRE and the hobbies it represents:
Warrior: I’m DEAD I’m DEAD!
Danny: Sorry, Sorry.
Warrior: Fun though right?
Danny: It’s a blast!
Warrior: Contagious! I know!
Warrior: Come back next year, we need people.
Warrior: Give me you email!
The warrior then remembers he’s been killed and over-acts his death.
In the battle Augie saves his crush Esplen from being killed, kills the King, and is finally killed by Esplen at the very end while he was celebrating his victory over the King. At the bonfire party after the war, Augie goes over to Esplen to congratulate her. Esplen/Sarah asks him to be her King (since she’s now the Queen), and then he kisses her. It’s all very cute awkward adolescent geek romance.
Augie’s part of the story is precious at times and fairly simple, but I’m happy to have more representations of geekdoms where the geeks are clearly humanized and their hobbies seen not as something to out-grow, but something to be enjoyed. Not that LARPs are all automagically wonderful and not that I think people should only be involved in LARPS/gaming/fantasy, but I’m pleased to identify Role Models as part of a more positive/realistic representation of geek cultures in mainstream media.