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Forecast of Wain

November 13, 2008 By:
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David Wain eyes his "Role Models." Photos by Sam Urdank/Universal
Wain's world is not relegated to living in his mother's basement, banging out bongs and blistering rock. No, David Wain's world is topflight, taking a major step up the stairs of the heaven that is Hollywood, which is now greeting his mojo of a major studio-house effort with numbers that serve as role models for modern-day success stories.

All with "Role Models," his off-the-wall, in-your-face, below-the-belt and, above all, big bonzo of a hit that just opened in theaters, where this tale of two slack-jawed slackers (Paul Rudd as major malcontent Danny and his dufus-bumpus buddy Wheeler, played by Seann William Scott) opts for maverick mayhem that would even get a no-no shake of the finger from John McCain.

But then, maybe McCain could have learned something from these gutsy guys. After all is said and done -- and diminished -- the two deadbeats get a life lesson from the loser kids they're forced to care for, fulfilling a community-service sentence for their wild behavior that shows it sometimes takes a village idiot to raise a ruckus.

And Wain, the "Role Model" director and co-screenwriter, is on a roll -- or, as he might have it, a sesame-seed-bagel-with-a-schmear campaign to bring mirth to the minions.

After all, this is the guy whose Web site once proffered a perfect recipe for his mother's Passover bread pudding.

That's some matzah ball he has hanging out there now, a movie of gross-outs and good grosses, which just may have Hollywood blue-skying it and wishing for Wainy Days (the name of his award-winning Web series).

Who knew that the absurdist ad-libber could improve on his improv roots as a member of Stella -- a scream of a series wired to cable success -- and the seditiously funny group, the State, to make a movie that features a Middle Ages tournament, to boot.

But then, Wain concedes with a laugh, getting the joke, it's a natural state to be in for such a Renaissance man as himself. "Yes," he says, a smile in his voice, "it's true."

But is it also true that he's gone from guerrilla filmmaker to minotaur moviemaker? "Seems so," he says of the mammoth minotaur mascot whose costume is worn by Wheeler accompanying Danny on sales pitches of a vile energy drink to vulnerable school kids.

School's out for the summer: The two get busted when Danny has a meltdown and cracks up his company's car, leading to the forced community service that serves to kick the plot into position.

Wain gets a kick out of being in the position that he's in. After all, he's already scored a "Ten" with his last effort, a takeoff on the Ten Commandments that had actors taking two tablets and calling him in the morning for direction.

Nice Jewish boy that he is, it had him beaming from the bimah to shake the sand out of his postmodern pyramid-power epic, with designer shoes and stabs in the back stepping in for sandals and swordplay.

Blue and Red-in-the-Face State

This one now on screen puts a smile on his face for a different reason. Coming off a wet, hot American summer, he falls back into his seminal state of mind. Blue and red-in-the-face from laughter? "I really made an effort to bring my state of mind to this project," he says of mixing mayhem with middle-of-the-road for "Role Models."

That path leads to trouble aplenty for the two mixed-up movie mentors, with Danny and Wheeler the renegade "Role Models" for a pair of messed-up youngsters -- one, Augie, an angst-filled kid (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) entrapped in his own LAIRE (Live Action Interactive Role-playing Explorers) tournament, which takes the form of a battle of medieval knights and daze in the last part of the film.

Kiss of death? Kiss of laughs -- as one of the final scenes pictures Danny and Wheeler coming to rescue Augie attired as dweeb doppelgangers of their own role models, the rock group Kiss, giving the bad guys of the tournament a tongue-lashing in a jest of a joust that threatens to rock and roll all night.

How long did it take the actors to be off script? Not that they were on it all the time. "Every scene had various levels of improv," given the imprimatur of screenwriter Wain.

Funny, it all must be in his gene pool; dive in, the humor's fine: "I get it from my parents," he says of his funny folks, role models both.

What's serious is the impact this rage of a flick may have on the filmmaker's future. Wain drops a hint that his reign -- which includes a performance with Stella on Nov. 30 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside and a major on- and offscreen role as actor/co-exec producer of WB.com's upcoming "Children's Hospital" (CHOP, hide your eyes) -- is absurdist, as usual.

No stopping him now. Has the red light certainly turned green? Maybe, he reasons, one day he'll be able to get his early features green-lighted, too, for the big screen.

And that would include ... "Mrs. Hitler"? He laughs. "Who knows," Wain kids of the film he shot on a videocam while still under the age of "Ten," a little number that was precursor to his future state-of-the-art Nazi-bashing binges/skits.

It's a preposterous idea, of course, and he's kibitzing, but then, this forecast of Wain is a barometer of bravura: "I'm always mining my past for good features."


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