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Drillbit Taylor: Welcome to Apatow Lite

Drillbit Taylor
Directed by Steven Brill
Written by Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown from a story by Rogen, Brown, and John Hughes (as Edmond Dantes)
Paramount, 2008

Drillbit Taylor is one of those movies that seems like it was made when everyone realized that Superbad was going to be a big hit and someone asked, “Hey, Seth, you got anything else on your computer we might be able to make? It doesn’t have to be finished or nuthin’.”

Of course, throw in Judd Apatow and suddenly the movie has some prestige. And I love Judd Apatow, but it’s getting to where he must think everything his friends write is hilarious. And this is dangerous for his own name because, suddenly, his name begins to get muddied with flicks that don’t really have the winning tone of the films that got him into this superproducer/director status. And I still don’t know what to make of that bizarre John Hughes involvement (neither did he: he decided to use a pseudonym).

Drillbit Taylor takes that familiar story of My Bodyguard or Three O’Clock High or that section of A Christmas Story where a group of kids gets bullied around and they decide to take action. Wade (Nate Hartley), Ryan (Troy Gentile), and tag-along Emmit (creepy Ring kid David Dorfman) are getting some crazy beatdowns courtesy of Filkins (Alex Frost) and Ronnie (Josh Peck). So they try to find an allowance-friendly bodyguard and end up with thief/bum/trickster Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), who initially wants to rob the kids’ houses blind but starts to warm to the idea of being a protector.

But he’s not a very good one, and he constantly has to lie about what he really is, and he’s just making it up as he goes along. He becomes a substitute teacher at the high school and starts dating real teacher Lisa (Leslie Mann), but his ruse is threatened by his other thief buddies (namely Danny McBride) who want to scam the kids and leave town.

It has its laughs here and there, but it’s all over the place. It’s an oddly-paced film and just doesn’t deliver the belly laughs save for one great gag involving a guitar player. It’s an overall average comedy, you could do worse (like Semi-Pro), but in the end it’s all watered down PG-13 stuff that needed some time to become the bigger comedy it deserved to be. But it feels rushed and the product suffers.


Comment from Sam Loomis
Time: March 21, 2008, 4:38 pm

Even if this could be made into a good film, the Owen Wilson aspect really throws me off. Granted, I haven’t seen the film, and maybe the fact he isn’t who he’s supposed to be is supposed to be part of the charm, but when I was a kid if someone that look liked Owen Wilson came up to me and said I can help you handle the bullies, I would’ve been like: Get the fuck out of here!

Why not get the Rock (Sorry, Dwayne Johnson) or Vin Diesel, two tough guys who have proved they have the comedic chops? Or, hell, go the complete opposite direction and get someone like DJ Qualls or why not Seth Rogen? Owen Wilson just didn’t seem to fit the idea behind this film judging from everything I’ve seen or read about it.

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