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Being a spokesman for an energy drink, driving a tricked-out truck and giving motivational speeches to middle school students is a cool job when you're 25. But when you're 35 and you've been giving the same lame advertisement-disguised-as-anti-drug-pitch for a decade, you begin to wonder where your life is going.
Still, it takes a very bad day, an unexpected breakup with his girlfriend Beth and a stupidity-induced run-in with the cops to make Danny Donahue confront reality. He and his partner in crime, Anson Wheeler, manage to avoid jail time by serving 150 hours of community service. They're assigned to the Sturdy Wings program, where they'll act as big brothers to a couple of, um, unique youngsters.
Crack addict-turned-social justice warrior Gayle Sweeney introduces them to their new buddies. Wheeler's "little" Ronnie is an impossible 10-year-old who goes through "bigs" like some people go through energy drinks. He's dispatched eight mentors in six weeks and is determined to do the same with Wheeler. What he doesn't know is that in this grown-up delinquent, he's met his match.
Danny's assignment, Augie, is a sci-fi geek who would rather live in the contrived world of his favorite role-playing game than in the real one. Danny can see why this cape-wearing, sword-wielding swashbuckler has a hard time making friends—and he's not sure he wants to become the first.
At the outset, Danny and Wheeler aim to rack up as many hours as possible with their littles, simply so they can check the box mandated by the judge. But—as per usual in this oft-used storyline—investing time in trying to change a young life eventually gets to them, and they are changed as well.
Despite being paired up with rather trying kids, Danny and Wheeler stick with Augie and Ronnie when times get tough. Granted, Wheeler's strategy of bringing Ronnie into his own sex-crazed, drunken world is a totally irresponsible one, but he is genuinely repentant and concerned when he fails the kid. Danny goes to great lengths to get to know Augie and the things that are important in his world. He defends Augie in front of the boy's completely selfish parents and even participates in the LAIRE (Live Action Interactive Role-play Explorers) game with him.
Ronnie's single mom is fiercely protective of him. It seems her son's acting out is not a result of her parenting, which appears (in the brief scenes in which we see her) to be fair and loving. One of Beth's law clients chastens Danny after he spontaneously proposes marriage to her: "You don't marry someone to get out of a rut. You marry someone because you love them."
A mentor sings a painful rendition of "Kum Ba Ya" on a Sturdy Wings camping trip. A LAIRE player makes reference to "magical rejuvenation powder."
Wheeler is a full-grown walking hormone, and Ronnie is a pint-sized one. Not surprisingly, the two egg each other on throughout the movie. Before he even meets Wheeler, Ronnie is into drawing pictures of oversized penises. Immediately upon being introduced to his mentor, the youngster tries to get him in trouble by loudly alleging sexual harassment. Not at all put off by Ronnie's brash sexual comments, Wheeler takes him on as a pervert-in-training. Among other things, he teaches him the art of ogling women's breasts without being caught. In return, Ronnie prompts other Sturdy Wings kids to ask Wheeler questions about promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.
On a camping trip, a female Sturdy Wings mentor reaches down Wheeler's pants and grabs his testicles. The two have sex in a tent, and audiences see her bare breasts and his bare backside as they sleep after the encounter. In a later sexual conquest, Wheeler is seduced by an elementary school teacher who says she's going to "discipline" him. He responds that that's one of his "four all-time fantasies." Audiences see her strip off her slinky dress and climb atop him in her panties. Ronnie is nearby during both encounters, sufficiently neglected by Wheeler to get into trouble of his own, but also close enough to the action to know exactly what his mentor is doing.
Danny mentions that he and Beth have been living together for seven years. The energy drink Danny and Wheeler peddle is called Minotaur. The product's tagline, "Taste the beast," is occasionally played as a double entendre. A hot dog also becomes fodder for a repeated innuendo. Augie pantomimes French kissing a girl and fondling her breasts.
When Danny complains about their community service sentence, Wheeler opines that it's better than getting "raped in jail." During the camping trip, a mentor is shown with his pants down, sitting on a five-gallon bucket. (The side angle of the camera prevents full exposure.)
Conversations revolve around ejaculation, kinky sexplay, fetishes, sex with fat women, the sexual exploits of rock stars, cheating fiancées, sex trafficking of children, oral sex and crude code words for female genitalia.
Danny and Wheeler fistfight in an elevator and in a moving car. All four "heroes" engage in one of Augie's LAIRE battles, which is never bloody but includes intense fake sword fighting and loads of dramatic "deaths." Danny crashes his truck into a statue at an elementary school. Speaking of his energy-drink gig, he laments, "If I had to do this job forever, I'd put a bullet in my head."
Crude or Profane Language
Three dozen f-words, at least a third of which are used in a sexual context. (As often as not, it's 10-year-old Ronnie who spouts them.) He keeps up with the big boys in terms of other profanities as well. All told, audiences also hear nearly 30 s-words, two dozen milder profanities and a dozen misuses of God's and Jesus' names together. (God's name is paired with "d---" once.) Besides all that, there's an obscene gesture and about 30 sexual crudities. The word gay is used as a synonym for stupid or trifling.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Wheeler jokes that his and Danny's job is "easy to do hung over." Though they have just finished an anti-drug presentation at a school, Wheeler sits on the tailgate of the truck and smokes a joint. At a party, we see him pouring alcohol and Minotaur simultaneously into a girl's mouth. On one occasion, he and a female companion take large doses of sleeping pills before having sex. Beer is consumed on several occasions.
Other Negative Elements
Because he's having a very bad day, Danny unthinkingly gives a pro-drug speech instead of an anti-drug speech at a school. He intentionally knocks a police officer off his truck's running board. Kids at the Sturdy Wings center go wild and throw popcorn at their mentors. Ronnie, who is black, flings accusations of racism when none are warranted. He also drives on more than one occasion, even though he's six years shy of a driver's license. After drinking too much Minotaur, Danny urinates and audiences see the stream hitting the urinal—it's bright green.
Gayle is a recovered drug addict whose aim is to help underprivileged kids avoid her former fate. But she spends a lot of time bragging about the drugs she did and the rough life she lived. She's proud of being a "b.s.-er" who can't be "b.s.-ed."
Can I just say that I think R-rated comedies are a bad idea in general? While dramas at times get their R-ratings for their serious portrayals of weighty social issues, the only thing that can possibly make a comedy R-rated is a lot of foul language, illegal substances or crude sexual humor. This film's got all three.
Sure, it also has a tried-and-true (or is that timeworn?) storyline showcasing the benefits of mentoring for both the investor and the investee. But pare the movie down to its positive elements, and it would be about 20 minutes long. The remaining three-fourths of the film just showcases the worst of the boys-will-be-boys phenomenon. Particularly disturbing is the role of Ronnie. This kid says and does things that would make many adults blush. And rather than pushing him in a positive direction, Wheeler just affirms and adds to his litany of licentiousness.
Incidentally, this is the second movie I've seen in recent months (the other being Mamma Mia!) that ends with one leading character saying softly and romantically to another, "We don't have to get married. We can just be together." Seems that invitation to cohabit is the new version of "and they lived happily ever after." A disturbing trend, and a very poor role model.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Paul Rudd as Danny Donahue; Seann William Scott as Anson Wheeler; Elizabeth Banks as Beth; Jane Lynch as Gayle Sweeney; Christopher Mints-Plasse as Augie Farks; Bobb'e J. Thompson as Ronnie Shields
David Wain ( Wanderlust)